The Last Seder
Structured around the Passover ritual, Jennifer Maisels satisfying family drama smoothly transcends its ethnic trappings. Marvin (Joseph Ruskin) suffers from rapidly progressing Alzheimers; caring for him has become too much for his loving wife, Lily (Jenny OHara), who plans to sell their house and use the proceeds to pay for a nursing facility. The idea distresses their four daughters, who have arrived home for one last, contentious holiday gathering each packing emotional baggage and each in varying stages of denial about the deterioration of their cherished father. Already-simmering passions become more inflamed when it comes to light that Lily has found much-needed solace with the widower next door (Nick Ullett). Alzheimers is a worthy dramatic theme, albeit thoroughly mined in recent years. Maisel, however, skillfully maneuvers the drama beyond the tolls of the illness; in her conflicted characters, she also illuminates the contemporary womans struggle for love and identity. (Tossing in a couple of gentile lovers and one gay marriage also keeps the material updated.) Unfortunately, the piece becomes protractedly schmaltzy toward the end, but no matter: Director Joseph Megel pilots a strong ensemble, with notable performances that include OHaras pivotal shoot-from-the-hip matriarch and Elisa Donovan as her confrontational daughter, whose plea for support to a stranger at a subway station aptly launches the play. Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 4 p.m. Starts: June 20. Continues through July 27, 2008
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