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The Good Mother

Review by Tulis McCall

I was talking to someone the other day about stock splits. And, if I am getting this right, you can split a stock that is say, worth $10, into four that are each worth $2.50. So you have four chits that have equal value to one. While it seems as though you have more shares on the table, the value of your holdings have not changed.

This, I think is a way to increase my 10 Worst Productions List and still keep the original name. After seeing this show, I definitely want to include it.

When the lights finally went down for good on this production there was a literal sigh of relief that passed through the audience. There are so many elements that are terribly amiss with this show.

To begin with - how did this script make it past the first reader? This is not a taught drama. This is a work that is sitting in its own mess like a spoiled child and refusing to get up.

Larissa (Gretchen Mol) is the single mother of an autistic child, Allyson, who we never see but who has dueling audio loops coming from the upstairs. We meet her preparing for a date and discussing babysitting duties with Angus (Eric Nelson) a Goth teenager that most people would not leave with their pet hamster. But Angus is the son of Larissa's former therapist, so there you have it.

The next day, after a sleepover with a trucker Jonathan (Darren Goldstein), Larissa calls Angus back to her house to tell him that Allyson has expressed to me that something happened. What that something is we never find out, but it seems to be the engine that Volpe wants to run this story.

Angus's father Joel (Mark Blum) comes to plead on his son's behalf and to see if, as Larissa's former therapist, he can figure out what might be going on. This is actually a decent scene, in spite of the fact that Mark Blum is forced to look upstage at Mol for most of it. We find out that Larissa is not the most tightly wrapped sandwich in the picnic basket, and could even be the kind person who would enjoy pulling wings off small insects.

Nothing comes of this knowledge in a meaningful way. Instead we witness one slow seen after another (with some of the longest lights up, down and blackouts I have ever watched. I counted to 20 seconds several times) in which Larissa gets more upset about the possibility that Angus is now a threat to her because she has pressed charges against him. And, oh yeah, there is no heat because she has not paid the bill, and there will soon be no electricity. And no one thinks to get the baby out of there. Huh.

Truly, by the time her old beau Buddy (Alfredo Narciso) appears to inspect a brick thrown through her window, all we want is for this to be over. Larissa is driving us as nutty as she does all the males in this play. The only difference is that each of them is taken in by her at one point or another. We, on the other hand just want her to pay the damn utility bill and take that noisy child to someone who will be a good mother.

Larissa is not. And as written by Volpe, and portrayed by Mol, Larissa is not anything. As a matter of fact she is more the absence of everything.

(Tulis McCall)

"The tension slackens steadily throughout this sluggish, murky drama."
Charles Isherwood for New York Times

"Maddeningly oblique 'thriller.'
Frank Scheck for New York Post

"The cast fail to provide a compelling reason for us to care what happens to any of these losers."
David Sheward for Back Stage

"Coma-inducing new play."
Joseph Cervelli for The Record

"The minutes tend to tick by heavily."
Michael Sommers for Newsroom Jersey

External links to full reviews from popular press...

New York Times - New York Post - Back Stage - The Record - Newsroom Jersey

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