Jennifer Ikeda, Molly Ranson, and
Janie Dee photo by Joan
by Eugene Paul
star Janie Dee is Linda, stunning, successful, now 55. She wants it to mean
off the bat, capturing the whirlwind success that Linda is and has become is
the whirlwind setting by Walt Spangler, which whirls so actively during the
presentation of the play from posh, purple offices to stark, glaring bathroom
and several points between at home and at work that you feel the heightened
tempo and anxiety of Linda, center of her world. Every molecule as sensitive
are the site specific, person specific costumes by Jennifer von Mayrhauser. And
yet, a puzzlement.
buried in Linda, the play, is what could be a far more interesting play
about her daughter, Alice (Jennifer Ikeda) but Linda is, from the very
top, about Linda (stunning Janie Dee), a beautiful, successful, self made
woman, which means that she has scaled the heights in the business world and
still has a husband and two children, a loving home, and the best office next
to lord of it all Dave (John C. Vennema) the president of the company whose
anti-aging cream she has been huckstering to much satisfying acclaim. And
sales. Linda now feels it’s time for her own, compelling idea, that being: a
woman of a “certain age” needs to be seen on her own, for herself, not just
striving to hang on to her disappearing youth. And disappearing as a desirable
sexual partner, a desirable business partner, a desirable human being,
goddamit. She’s alive, she’s vital, she’s all these things. Let’s really look
at her and celebrate her, the grown up woman.
a success like Linda’s also attracts a younger woman, a whole generation
younger, like Amy (quite as gorgeous Molly Griggs) who as yet does not use the
anti-aging cream they are selling – no need, for heaven’s sake --who wants all
the goodies Linda has scrupulously worked for and obtained and is absent those
scruples. Amy is going to get them goodies, especially, that office. Next to
the president of the company.
has thoughtfully put her reclusive daughter, Alice, now 25, to work in the
company just to get Alice out of the house and back into the land of the
living. Ten years ago, Alice butchered off her beautiful hair, put on a
complete, baggy body suit with hood and tail – it looks sort of like a skunk
--and never takes it off. She’s invisible in it, she feels, and that’s what she
wants to be. The suit also hides what she’s done to herself. Something
happened ten years ago at school, when she was outstandingly beautiful,
desirable, witty, and delightful. She left school, never finished, crushed. In
Linda’s office, ordinary clothes atop her hiding suit, she encounters Amy and
coolly braces her. She had been in school with Amy. Amy is stunned, does not
recognize Alice, and then it trickles back. It was Amy that drove Alice
into oblivion. Alice has never told her mother how or why. Or father, Neil
(Donald Sage Mackay) for that matter. He’s always so preoccupied.
preoccupied, Linda finds out after a tough day trying to convince Dave of this
new campaign, Dave who much prefers young Amy’s gung-ho explosion of studio
art all about being young and beautiful, the way you really sell anti-aging
cream. Linda, frustrated, goes home early. And is rocked back on her heels when
she’s confronted by an embarrassed young girl in bare legs and feet and Linda’s
husband’s tee shirt just covering the rest of bare her.
this is sounding like a soap opera, it is, well, sort of an anti-aging cream
opera, and all too common as midday television. Yes, there’s the big split-up,
yes, her husband really loves this was just a- a- nothing, well not quite a
nothing. The embarrassed young girl, Stevie (very good Meghan Fahy) tries to
make it all better, to take all the blame. And Linda has still to make her big
pitch for her campaign.
Yes, it all goes to hell, breakdown and all. Meaning that in her turmoil she
succumbs to the blandishments of hunky Luke (Maurice Jones) and guess who gets
it all on her cell phone. Amy, triumphant, outlining just exactly what she
wants, two children, her own house, her own husband, and that office and no
Linda. Topping it all off with no reaction on anybody’s part except Bridget’s
(Molly Ranson) their other much younger daughter who has shared her bedroom
with Alice all these hidden years, is Alice’s departure. She is going to live
on her own, face the world, accept that wrongs will never be righted and that’s
the way it is. She walks out of her home. Linda never says boo. Neill is gone.
Linda is much too preoccupied with her own fate, her own future.
playwright Penelope Skinner isn’t giving an inch. In fact, she rubs it in.
Dramatic successes of women’s status versus men? Balderdash. Of course, you see
that Amy is on exactly the same track that Linda has traveled. Alice
is just another of those many women’s tragedies, not even a tragedy, an
incident. Little Bridget? Her strivings in her school play are achingly,
funny-sad. She’ll come to nothing. Because that’s what’s become of Linda’s
lifelong dream. It’s still a man’s world.
Lynne Meadow, ironically, puts the lie to the whole premise by directing this
show as deftly as ever in her long, successful career as artistic director of
the Manhattan Theatre Club which is presenting Skinner’s play. Then again,
executive producer Barry Grove might have something to do with all that.
They’ve both been at the helm from the beginning so maybe all’s right with the
world, at least is some parts of it, anyway.
Center Stage 1, 131 West 55th Street. Tickets: $90 212-581-1212
2hrs 15 min. Thru April 2.