Other Desert Cities

Wow. A lot has happened since I last dropped in on you. Most recently, all that is left in the garden is a wild plot of nasturtium that is probably choking the life out of whatever mint is left (which is getting transplanted next season) and one hyper-active pepper plant. The tomatoes are all done, the basil is all done and what wasn’t used for another batch of pesto, is drying.

This past weekend we saw two plays on Broadway. One Friday night and a matinee on Saturday. I’ll get to Saturday’s tomorrow.

On Friday we almost didn’t see Other Desert Cities. And it wasn’t because the skies threatened rain..or maybe it was, who knows? In spite of the suggestion I carry my little Totes umbrella for when I got off the train in the city, I didn’t. Well, I couldn’t find it, point 1,  and point number 2, navigating the city without an umbrella is taxing enough and I’ve traversed along 8th Avenue in drizzly conditions, dodging others’ bumbershoots and it’s not that easy a task. I applaud those who do it. I left the house, alarmingly earlier than I expected because my cab came sooner than they have been lately. I only waited less than 10 minutes as opposed to sometimes close to 30 and I actually waited for a second train so I could enjoy my Dunkin Donuts coffee and the rising blister on my tongue. Yes, sometimes those cautions are accurate!

Well, not long after I got to the station did the skies open and I thought, oh crap, maybe I should have invested a few more minutes in my umbrella search, but I toughed it out and by the time I got to New York the rain had either ceased or had not yet arrived and I high-tailed it to the restaurant, our favorite haunt, Playwrights. Knowing Ariel was on his way, with the tickets, from approximately 25 minutes before I got off the train at 5:08, I ordered a beer at the bar and put my name down for a table. I’ll spare you the details, but Ariel finally got to Playwrights at 7:10. When he called to say he was finally in the city and parking, I ordered dinner and drinks so they’d be at the table when he arrived and get this, we even had time for dessert!

Okay, on to the show:

Rachel Griffiths, of television’s Brothers & Sisters, plays rehabilitated novelist daughter Brooke Wyeth to Stockard Channing and Stacey Keach’s Polly, an ex-screenwriter and Lymen Wyeth, an ex-Hollywood actor, and friends of the Reagans. Brooke returns home for Christmas with a soon to be published manuscript which tells the story of her family, at least how she knows it, with the main focus being her dead brother and offering closure to their relationship, a book her parents fight tooth and nail to make her reconsider publishing, claiming she knows nothing of the truth surrounding the brother, a secret that would destroy them. Meanwhile her younger living brother Trip, played by Thomas Sadoski encouraged her to go forward, as long as she understood the emotional consequences it would arouse and her recovered alcoholic aunt Silda, a relatively small part but played brilliantly and flawlessly by Judith Light, applauded her niece’s determination to publish her book with a damn the torpedoes attitude.

Even though witty dialogue flew effortlessly between the characters, eliciting laughter from the audience, the mood was evident something dark and moody lurked behind the family’s outward attempt at aloofness within itself. Stockard Channing was brilliant as Polly, the right wing opinionated mother and as the newly sobered aunt Silda, a vast contrast politically and emotionally to sister Polly, Judith Light was a positive force to be reckoned with. Rachel Griffiths was a step above the character I know her as, Sarah Walker (Brothers & Sisters). As Trip, Thomas Sadoski played the tired of being caught in the middle sibling/child convincingly. I only wish Stacey Keach had been a little less restrained.

The final line in the play left me with something of a haunting chill, as its meaning was both cryptic and obvious that closure was unattainable. I gave Other Desert Cities an 8.


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