Sunday, May 15, 2016

A Better Place @ The Duke on 42nd Street

A Better Place
Calling all dreamers! A Better Place, presented by The Directors Company in association with Pascal Productions reflects issues of trust, family and overcoming the struggles of comparison, all the while looking into our own notions of grandeur as we seek our next horizon.

Director Evan Bergman has a thrust stage as her personal canvas to present the story of two families seeking a better place. Scenic Designer David L. Arsenault created two apartments for the audience to peer into—one quaint and small living room pre-war walkup and the other “better place” hi-rise apartment equipped with a sitting room, hallway and office.

We begin by looking into Les Covert’s (Bob Maitner) mind of “if only I lived across the street in that apartment, my life would be perfect.” Maitner conveys Les as the self-limited middle-aged waiter faced with his own past. His character was funny and relatable.

Covert’s lover and life partner, Sel Trevoc (John Fitzgibbon) is a philosophy professor five years into waiting for his tenure. Fitzgibbon created a mirror for Maitner’s character and offered the comic relief and introspection needed to drive his inner conflicts to fruition. The two had good chemistry and Fitzgibbon’s character was the only one philosophically at peace with his life and choices.
Across the way, the Roberts family struggles with gambling addiction, familial envy and growing into adulthood. Husband and wife Mary and John Roberts are looking to sell their hi-rise and move to Florida while their daughter, Carol, is left to find her way in New York City without them.

Mary Roberts (Judith Hawking) struggles with her suspicions that her husband may not want to sell and finally retire to a more Southern climate. She consistently harps on her daughter Carol about beginning life as an adult rather than a dependent 28-year-old and prances around the set mumbling relatable and funny anecdotes.

Her husband, John (Edward James Hyland) has a horse gambling addiction that seems to always end in winning. He ushers himself to provide for his family in ways that he can and is meticulous about the luscious upgrades he has made to the hi-rise. His love for his wife shows through in his performance. 

Their daughter Carol (Jessica DiGiovanni) holds a strange fetish. Needing to concentrate on her better place, she is only attracted to real estate brokers and will open herself to their affections only after they have described upscale apartments in ways that excite her. She is seen with many renditions of Michael Satow and their taking to the stage was always met with laughter.

The play was introspective (yet somewhat predictable) and showed the inner turmoil that many of us all face in our search for the next beginning. 

Review By: Alex Lipari
Photos By:  Jenny Anderson

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