The Waverly Gallery

The Waverly Gallery

The Broadway premiere of the 2001 Pulitzer Prize Finalist play The Waverly Gallery, a memory play by Academy Award winner Kenneth Lonergan, finally celebrates its Broadway premiere at the Golden Theatre.

Anyone who has been through the heartbreaking loss of a loved one to dementia will find a deep connection to this moving drama, especially to the outstanding performance of Grammy Award winner and Oscar & Golden Globe nominee Elaine May as Gladys Green. One half of the legendary comedy duo Nichols and May, she returns to the same Broadway theatre where An Evening With Mike Nichols and Elaine May ran for over 300 performances from October 1960. And what an auspicious return it has been.

Gladys' gradual decline over the course of the play is brilliantly portrayed in a highly nuanced performance that is sure to be worthy of Tony Award contention. Equally as touching and as impressive is the relationship depicted with her grandson, Daniel, exceptionally executed by Academy Award nominee Lucas Hedges, who also functions in the dual role of our narrator, frequently breaking the fourth wall to guide us through his intimate thoughts and fill in any gaps in the narrative along the way. Daniel's connection to his grandmother is unquestionably driven by unconditional love, but - in all too human ways - it is also a three-dimensional one that induces frustration, desperation and a need for self-preservation. In this respect, Oscar & Golden Globe nominee Joan Allen is also a standout as Ellen, Gladys' daughter, unable to cope with her mother's dementia for much of the piece. Ms. Allen's performance is laced with anger and almost a kind of resentment and yet she still manages to draw empathy from the audience, well before she finally accepts the burden ahead of her towards the play's conclusion.

These three phenomenal actors, portraying three generations of a family in crisis, are supported by two additional members of the cast - Tony Award-winning director David Cromer, who makes a return to acting as Howard, Ellen's husband, and Tony Award nominee Michael Cera, taking on the role of Don Bowman, a lost soul of an artist, who Gladys takes into her Waverly Gallery to shelter and to display his work. For these two characters, the relationship to Gladys' predicament is of a less emotionally invested one and this provides an interesting juxtaposition in the drama. For others, life goes on. Other people are absorbed in their own little world of dilemmas, as you are left to go through the pain of seeing a family member deteriorate before your very eyes. Cera and Cromer also provide the comic relief moments of the play through Cera's trademark socially awkward character expertise and Cromer's hard-headed, matter-of-fact approach.

Through Lonergan's well-crafted script and Lila Neugebauer's fluid direction, the cast converse in an extremely naturalistic way, often speaking over each other and at times, the interactions seem almost improvised. The effect reminds us that this is real life with real people experiencing sadly all too real problems. It feels as unpredictable as Gladys' behaviour itself and keeps us on the edge of our seats as a result.

During sometimes lengthy scene changes, the audience is treated to archive, black-and-white projections of Greenwich Village and New York City that then fade away like Gladys' memories themselves. A beautiful touch to a beautifully acted and emotionally devastating piece of theatre.  

The Waverly Gallery originally premiered at the Williamstown Theatre Festival in August 1999, before opening Off-Broadway at the Promenade Theatre in March 2000.

(Photos by Brigitte Lacombe)

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Running time: 
2hrs 15mins (including 1 intermission)
Categories: 
15 images
About The Waverly Gallery:

The Waverly Gallery is about the final years of a generous, chatty, and feisty grandmother’s final battle against Alzheimer’s disease. Gladys is an old-school lefty and social activist and longtime owner of a small art gallery in Greenwich Village. The play explores her fight to retain her independence and the subsequent effect of her decline on her family, especially her grandson. More than a memory play, The Waverly Gallery captures the humor and strength of a family in the face of crisis.

By:
Kenneth Lonergan
Producer:
Scott Rudin
Director:
Lila Neugebauer
Lighting:
Brian MacDevitt
Design:
David Zinn
Costume:
Ann Roth
Cast list:
Elaine May (as Gladys Green), Michael Cera (as Don Bowman), Lucas Hedges (as Daniel Reed), Joan Allen (as Ellen Fine), and David Cromer (as Howard Fine)
The Waverly Gallery Performance Dates & Times
Previews from: 
September 25, 2018
Opening date: 
October 25, 2018
Closes: 
January 27, 2019
MatineeEvening
Monday--
Tuesday-7pm
Wednesday2pm8pm
Thursday-7pm
Friday-8pm
Saturday2pm8pm
Sunday3pm-

Performance schedules for all shows are subject to change.

Golden Theatre

Address:
252 West 45th Street (between Broadway and 8th Avenue), New York, NY 10036
Nearest subway station:
42nd Street - Port Authority Bus Terminal Station

Latest The Waverly Gallery News & Features

Interview with The Waverly Gallery star Joan Allen
December 21, 2018

Joan Allen shares her thoughts on her Broadway return and how dementia and The Waverly Gallery have impacted her life...

Our The Waverly Gallery Review

Entering the Golden Theatre to see The Waverly Gallery, with Elaine May, I could not help but be reminded that a few months ago I was in that same theatre to see Three Tall Women featuring another octogenarian, Glenda Jackson. The comparison is not without merit, although the two characters these fine actors portray are light years apart. One is a laser sharp chronicler of life and the other... Read more