Review: There’s a ‘Silver’ lining at the Vineyard Theater
By Miles Harter, Contributing Writer, November 22, 2016
Nicky Silver’s latest play, This Day Forward, received its world premiere at the Vineyard Theatre, where it will continue to run through mid-December. I loved the play. Using dark humor, Silver brilliantly explores love and conflict in both straight and gay relationships, family dynamics, and the serious concerns involving an aging parent. The script indeed includes provocative and moving themes and compelling and sympathetic characters — everything I consider essential in a play. The many awkwardly hilarious moments were ably directed by Mark Brokaw, guiding the talented cast in effective use of facial expressions, pauses, and gestures.
The action occurs in two different time periods — 1958 (act one) and 2004 (act two), and during the intermission the exquisite sets (designed by Allen Moyer) change dramatically. The first act is set in an elegant room in the St. Regis Hotel, where newlyweds—handsome Martin and gorgeous Irene—are to spend the first night of their honeymoon. The second act is a tastefully decorated loft apartment with a picture window of a glorious NYC skyline. It is immediately clear that it is the home of a prosperous gay man, who turns out to be Noah, the son of Martin and Irene.
The play opens with a monologue by Martin, which is perhaps the only weakness of the play, as it includes trite and forced jokes about the wedding that has just ended. But then we hear Irene’s perspective. An outrageous situation develops, bordering on hilarious but believable absurdity, which is partially witnessed by the curious but embarrassed hotel maid and bellboy. In the equally strong amusing second act, we learn of the complications in the lives of Noah and his sister Sheila, and are reintroduced to Irene, their mother, in her sorrowful decline.
The cast is stellar. Most exceptional is Michael Crane, in two divergent roles; he is Martin, the nervous groom in 1958, and then remarkably transforms into his gay son, Noah, in 2004. It was unclear why Mr. Silver picked those particular dates (1958 and 2004), except that Noah can make one prescient and droll remark about how important good television writing might become in ten years. Another standout cast member is June Gable, a NY theater favorite, but most fondly known as Joey’s theatrical agent, Estelle, in the TV sitcom Friends. In This Day Forward, Ms. Gable brilliantly inhabits two entirely different roles, Melka, the hotel maid in 1958, and Irene, in 2004, as she has aged. In both roles, and in each she plays a mother, she is wonderful in her brutal and painful honest comments, particularly about relationships.
The Vineyard Theatre is a comfortable and relaxing off-Broadway venue, and with its stadium seating, there’s not a bad seat in the house. The audience is also treated, before the show and during the short intermission, to original, beautiful Big Band-style music by David Van Tieghem.
This production has a limited run and is scheduled to close Sunday, December 18, so I urge you to make your plans to attend now.
This Day Forward, presented by The Vineyard Theatre 108 East 15th Street. Runs through Sunday, December 18, 2016. By Nicky Silver. Directed by Mark Brokaw; scenic design by Allen Moyer; costumes by Kaye Voyce; lighting by David Lander; original music and sound design by David Van Tieghem. Artistic Directors: Douglas Aibel and Sarah Stern. Cast: Andrew Burnap, Michael Crane, Holley Fain, Francesca Faridany, June Gable, Joe Tippett.
Cover: Joe Tippett, Holley Fain, Andrew Burnap and Michael Crane in ‘This Day Forward’; photo: Carol Rosegg.