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This review by Simon Saltzman was prepared for the November 3,


issue of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

Broadway Review: Reckless

The Manhattan Theater Club has found it difficult to get a hit into

its new Broadway venue, the elegantly refurbished Biltmore Theater.

They still haven’t struck gold, but at least "Reckless," a

co-production with the Second Stage Theater, has Tony-winner ("Proof")

Mary-Louise Parker giving a lovably quirky performance to cherish.

Parker, who interestingly played a supporting role in the 1995 film

version, is now the central character in this revival of Craig Lucas’s

serio-comic play that was originally produced by the Circle Repertory

Company in 1988.

Lucas, the author of such commendable plays as "Prelude to a Kiss,"

"Blue Window," and The Dying Gaul, couldn’t have found a better

director than Mark Brokaw to guide Parker through his erupting terrain

of heightened reality, dreams, and delusions. The dark adventures of a

suburban, emotionally stranded housewife who goes on the run after

learning that her husband has taken a contract out on her life, tries

to be a metaphysical exploration of destiny, a heartbreaking look into

the effects of disenchantment, and the cost of fulfillment. Lucas

certainly knows how to handle these meaty issues felicitously, if not

especially lucidly.

It’s Christmas (we know that because it’s snowing outside and "I’ll Be

Home for Christmas" is being played somewhere on high). While their

two children are tucked safely into bed, Rachel (Parker) is cuddled up

in bed with her husband Tom (Thomas Sadoski). "I’m having one of my

euphoric attacks," she admits in anticipation of everything, including

a Christmas morning, that seems so imminently blissful in her life.

But the euphoria is short lived when her husband is suddenly no longer

the Santa of her dreams as he admits, "I’ve taken a contract out on

your life."

A last-minute change of heart by Tom instigates Rachel’s hasty exit in

bathrobe and slippers through the bedroom window just as the hired hit

man is heard entering the house. So begins Rachel’s new life — or is

it a dream? — in which she is discovered in a highway telephone booth

and subsequently befriended by a possibly too-good-to-be-true physical

therapist, Lloyd (Michael O’Keefe). Lloyd takes Rachel home to his

wife, Pooty (Rosie Perez, the role that Parker played in the film), a

deaf paraplegic. They even get a job for Rachel at a world charity


Could this be the start of a new beginning for Rachel, or is she about

to discover that even given another chance, she is going to discover

that people are rarely whom they appear to be and that we are all set

adrift in a serendipitous world? In a series of outrageously

contrived, but conceptually inescapable, situations, Rachel finds

herself having to deal not only with her fear of discovery, but with

the concealed emotional states and hidden pasts of a pair of

well-meaning self deceivers and an embezzling bookkeeper (Olga

Merediz), at the organization.

The play, unfortunately, flounders for too long in a grotesque and

protracted quiz show segment and a preposterous poisoning by a lunatic

embezzler. Rachel’s bouts with six analysts, all played by Debra Monk,

are rather witless and redundant. The play tries very hard to balance

an upside down world with gravity. Designer Allen Moyer’s whimsical

settings suggest that it’s all make-believe. The discovery that life

is not a forward march, but rather concentric circles wherein the past

and future reside, is only part of Rachel’s somewhat disorienting path

to rediscovery. The other part is the recognition that her dreams,

like her life, are interchangeable.

Brokaw (who also directed Lucas’s "Stranger" and "The Dying Gaul," a

much better play) has directed with an acute ear and eye for the

playwright’s vision. The cast is fine given the cartoon nature of

their characters. More dimensions are afforded Parker, who appears

sensitized to every aspect of Rachel’s persona, from skittish

immaturity to na‹ve adaptability, and finally to her more illuminated

womanhood. Monk has a flashy assignment bringing diversity to six

clueless analysts. She also plays a nun whose past as a school bus

driver is a little too conveniently tied to Rachel’s life. Pooty is

perkily played by Perez of film and TV fame. O’Keefe gets to do a

turnaround from comforting to comatose as the conflicted Claude.

Sadosky also returns as Tom and Rachel’s son in a climactic scene

designed to bring the play full circle. But then, this is a play

calculated to keep you going in circles.

– Simon Saltzman

Reckless, Biltmore Theater, 261 West 47th Street. For tickets call


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