The Madrid

  • Our critic's rating:
    February 1, 2013

    This doesn’t quite qualify for my worst production list. Cockamamie, that’s the list it belongs on. This show is like watching a live kaleidoscope where the pieces are human - proof of parallel universes.

    Martha (Edie Falco) is a kindergarten teacher who is having a no-good-very-bad-day. On second thought, make that life. And one day she shifts from the world in which her husband John (John Ellison Conlee), daughter Sarah (Phoebe Strole) mother Rose (Frances Sternhagen) and best friend Becca (Heidi Schreck) live, into another world. Not too far away. She stays in the same town and moves into an apartment in The Madrid.

    We meet everyone, along with Becca’s husband Danny (Christopher Evan Welch) and son Dylan (Seth Clayton) well after the departure. It has been several months since Martha’s disappearing act, long enough to start selling the furniture that John can no longer stand. Long enough for Sarah to move back home. The last call “I’m leaving now,” is still fresh in everyone’s memory and seems to be all they can talk about. One would think it had just happened, the way they tiptoe around the subject, 0dd.

    Soon after, Martha makes an appearance at the store where Sarah works. She is able to pull Sarah into her orbit once again, and makes her keep it a secret for several weeks from John until the weight of it all comes crashing in. She brings Sarah to The Madrid where, even though she is living in an apartment that appears uninhabitable, Martha maintains that she is exactly where she wants to be, and that she has worked hard to achieve the status that this hovel bestows on her. Makes you wonder what she was doing between the time she left and signing the lease on this dump.

    Everyone here operates in a sort of dream state. As though pain had worn off all their edges and slowed them down so much that moss may be sprouting out of their north sides. The only one who is showing signs of life is Martha, but the signs she shows are more like small meteor showers that erupt without concern or connection to the world around her. This is a woman who seems to have been off her meds for a long, long time. And what this writer leaves out is how and why no one did anything about it. No one seems to have noticed that she wanted to run away every time the front door opened. As written, John is a man slow to anger to such a degree that you want to feel for a heartbeat. The rest of the characters natter on but simply do not connect, with the exception of a fleeting glimpse of electricity outside a bar.

    Edie Falco is a mesmerizing performer, however. She slices her way through this script like a woman on a real life and death mission. But even she cannot hold this show together. The weight of what is lacking in terms of plot, character and purpose is simply too great. In the end, it drags everyone, including the audience, into the drink, glub.

    "Muted, murky new play."
    Ben Brantley for New York Times

    "Awkward enough to make you wish for a stiff one.."
    Joe Dziemianowicz for New York Daily News

    "Appealing new play."
    Elisabeth Vincentelli for New York Post

    "Undercooked comedy-drama.., Not even the excellent Leigh Silverman, who directs, can make the thin story of a primary-school teacher who one day just ups and leaves her family with no explanation believable or worth our time."
    Erik Haagensen for Back Stage

    "A flawed drama."
    Robert Feldberg for The Record

    "Flahive’s dialogue often is attractive, her story never really gets anywhere."
    Michael Sommers for Newsroom Jersey

    "Falco is disappointingly one-note in this shallow drama whose opaque central character never comes into focus."
    David Rooney for The Hollywood Reporter

    "A dull domestic drama."
    Marilyn Stasio for Variety

    External links to full reviews from popular press...

    New York Times - New York Daily News - New York Post - Back Stage - The Record - Newsroom Jersey - The Hollywood Reporter - Variety