Everything is lovely in the country house owned by the aging actress Anna Patterson – at least on the surface. She has gathered the family to mourn the year anniversary of her daughter’s death. Her granddaughter Susie, her son-in-law Walter (with his new girlfriend, Nell), her disgruntled son, Elliot and Michael, a successful celebrity actor who is a catnip to women and a long-time family friend, are all there.
Much of the play is just witty conversation. For example, Anna tells Nell, “There are no Broadway stars, dear. Oh, there are stars on Broadway, but they’re not Broadway stars.” But, after intermission the play gets a bit crazy. Elliot, probably during drunken binge, has written a play. He brings it to the family for a reading and when they don’t appreciate his talents he becomes unhinged. In the end everything is wrapped up a bit too tidily, for my taste.
David Margulies’ characters in The Country House are inspired by Checkov’s ‘The Seagull’ and ‘Uncle Vanya.’ For those that know the Checkov plays you may find this clever. But since I was not familiar with those plays, I watched The Country House at face value.The banter is entertaining; the actors were in great form and seemed to be enjoying themselves. I give a shoutout to Sarah Steele, who plays Susie. Her performance was spot-on. She embodies the emotional gravity this family and family-gathering needs. Without her, the entire play might have been too over the top. LAR
Manhattan Theater Club at the Samuel J. Friedman Theater, 261 W 47th Street
Tickets prices: $67-125
Discount tickets: $50-$80 available at BroadwayBox. Code: CHBBD49
Runs thru: November 23, 2014
Running time: 2 hours 20 minutes, one intermission