By: Isa Goldberg
The horrors of family life have been fueling Nicky Silver’s dramadies for some time
now. In his early play, Pterodactyls (1993), he wished the nuclear
family into extinction. And when he made his Broadway debut just four years
ago, with The Lyons, it was with an equally acrimonious family. In fact,
Linda Lavin couldn’t have been bitchier or funnier in her role as the wife of a
Currently, Off Broadway at the Vineyard Theatre with his latest comedy, This Day
Forward – a dark one to be sure, he takes us back to the wedding night of
two, soon to be unhappily married people.
Martin (Michael Crane) is a privileged Jewish boy who is head over heals over Irene
(Holley Fain). But Irene is in love with Emil (Joe Tippitt), a grease monkey
who drinks beer, and loses all his money at a game of dice. Besides, Irene’s
parents hate him. They love Martin – he’s wealthy, Jewish, and tame.
At the realization of Irene’s discontent, however, Martin tries to buy her off with
the dream of a house in the suburbs – Westchester. It’s 1958. The entire
American economy is focused on building that ideal life style and the
incredible infrastructure that will make it possible.
But at the end of Act I, Irene leaves him and their room at the St. Regis hotel, with its
tepid pink walls and milquetoast décor (scenic design by Allen Moyer).
Martin’s only consolation is the Polish maid, portrayed with inconsolable wit
by June Gable (television’s “Friends”). She is right out of an “I
Love Lucy” episode.
It’s 2004 when Act II opens. We are in a swank Manhattan condo. Here, Martin Crane
portrays Noah, Martin and Irene’s son, a theater director with lots of cred and
an avaricious eye for sexy young men. In that role, Andrew Burnap (the porter
from Act I) is well suited, albeit a bit sensitive.
In reflecting on his youth, we learn that Noah’s dad had hit him with his belt,
and his mother let him know that she never wanted him. Nothing too out of the
ordinary, as director Mark Brokaw presents it. Just the outcome of the years of
bitter disappointment that marked their marriage, and destroyed their children.
As it turns out, This Day Forward is more of an indictment of American life,
and how we’ve built it, than a promise of a glowing future. In fact, these
beneficiaries of the aspiring ‘50s appear simply callow.
This Day Forward is now playing at Vineyard Theater, 108 West 15 Street, through December 18, 2016 . For tickets call 212-353-0303