Act II Playhouse Presents:
Any Given Monday
By Bruce Graham
Directed by Bid Martin
59 East 59th Street
(See Discount Parking Coupons for 59E59 Theaters)
Lauren Ashley Carter, Michael Mastro
Hillary B. Smith, Paul Michael Valley
Scenic Design: Dirk Durossette
Lighting Design: Paul Miller
Costume Design: Bobby Pearce
Sound Design: Jacob Subotnick
Production Stage Manager: Kerri J. Lynch
Production Manager: Joshua Scherr
Assoc. Producer: The Active Theater
General Management Consult.: DR Theatrical Mgmt.
Casting: Cindi Rush Casting
Press Consult.: Keith Sherman & Assoc.
Strategic Marketing: AKA
59 E 59 Theaters Press:
Karen Greco: KAREN@KGRECOPR.COM
Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
November 2, 2011
What a pleasant surprise to see Any Given Monday, a new play presented by Philadelphia’s Act II Playhouse and written by Bruce Graham. Dirk Durossette’s well-lived in den has an offstage television, presumably where the audience sits, that keeps Lenny (Paul Michael Valley) company, as he seethes and sighs at the loss of his complacent marital lifestyle. Risa (Hillary B. Smith), Lenny’s wife, has been seduced and swept away by a lover, and Lenny reacts with grief and despair, not the vengeful type. However, when it comes to vengeful, Lenny has a friend who has his back, Mickey (Michael Mastro), who’s his Monday Night Football buddy tonight, and the beer flows. Lenny would be thrilled to woo Risa back, but Mickey already had fate-changing plans up his sleeve, as he’s not a guy who waits for chance resolutions. Rounding out the cast is Sarah (Lauren Ashley Carter), Lenny and Risa's college age daughter, who wants Lenny to be more macho with her mother, rather than the passive schoolteacher type he’s apparently grown into. One assumes he leaves his charisma at the chalkboard.
Ms. Smith sits stage right in a chair, like she’s being interviewed, and offers monologues on her psychic and emotional unrest, her colliding options, and her longing to be a fulfilled woman, in daylight and moonlight. We hear her thought process unraveling the marriage, but we also hear her caution and conflict. Risa is relaxed in her escape, and Lenny is watching the phone. Sarah, Ms. Carter’s character, is far too jumpy and edgy, or maybe that’s being a twenty something. She defiantly forces her father to work harder, to compete with Frank’s (the offstage lover) machismo and strength. Frank is a wealthy businessman, but Lenny and Risa have a history of togetherness. Plus, they have Sarah, and Sarah wants her mother back, too, but on her terms. Sarah convinces Lenny to show rage and set lines in the sand, like putting his feet on the coffee table and getting a big, furry dog. Sarah extrapolates from her philosophy-psychology studies with all too much psychobabble, but, again, that’s the nature of an undergrad.
At the core of the play is Mickey’s risky act, wherein he has plotted in detail to make Frank disappear. Without revealing this plot, the audience does sit at the edge of its seats, at times, with talk of crime, guns, police, luxury cars, drugs, news headlines, and masterful set-ups for self-preservation. Lenny, Sarah, and the audience eventually root for Mickey, as his goal is to save his football buddy’s marriage and family. Mickey works in the subway, and Mr. Mastro presents him with street toughness and straightforward humor. He’s endearing and natural. Bud Martin directs for infinitesimal gestures that belie the characters’ ease or distress, and he keeps the humor uncluttered with pauses and careful timing. The film “To Kill a Mockingbird” is intrinsic to the play, as excerpts open Act I, and it’s Lenny’s favorite film. This film has racial profiling and crime at its core, but the element of racial profiling in Any Given Monday is treated as an afterthought. This play could improve with increased depth of characters and a more extensive dialogue on the ultimate revenge that, through Mickey, could have been far more thought-provoking. I did find Mr. Mastro an actor I’d like to see again, soon, as he was a cross between Art Carney and Edward G. Robinson.