Playwright Richard Greenberg's has delivered once again by giving theater goers the gift of another Broadway hit.
Director Lynne Meadows has taken Greenberg's treasured words in "The Assembled Parties" and directed them into a great evening of theater. Meadows understands that the play has all the ingredients that audiences love in a good Broadway play and the Director, with great skill, makes sure we don't miss any of them.
Assembled Parties starts with a much beloved theme of the dysfunctional American family. Then you add a brilliant ensemble cast anchored by three amazing actors. Finally you add the outstanding set by Santo Loquasto. Meadow mixed them all together and you have created a a spectacular evening of theater.
While the entire cast is simply incredible, Jessica Hecht, Judith Light and Jeremy Shamos give outstanding performances.
Jessica Hecht takes 'Julie" from a care free 'what the hell', hippie, loving wife and transforms her to a vulnerable and desperate person who is seeking approval and love. . She literally holds the play together from start to finish. With a sense of great timing, the actress is generous with the other actors and gives them the opportunity to shine. The role could have easily been overdone and she practices restraint but makes totally believable her transformation on stage. This might be Hecht's finest performance yet.
Judith Light for the third time in a row on Broadway hits it out of the park and is just brilliant in Assembled Parties. Clearly she might see her third Tony Award nomination in a row. The actress doesn't waste a word in this play and fills the stage with her acting chops and charisma. As the guest and relative, Faye, she emulates humor, sympathy and the kind of friend everyone wish they had in their real life. With already two Tony nominations and one Tony win, Light has become an emerging acting legend on "The Great White Way". Patrons of theater are going to plays just to see her in action and producers should pay attention!
Jeremy Shamos, who last year won a Tony nomination for "Clybourne Park" proves that he will be around the stage for years to come as a leading man. Going from a somewhat nerdy but delightful young friend of the family to one of its saviors later in the play is a challenging role. Shamos wears his youth better than his senior years but delivers the goods with excellent timing and outstanding acting.
Mention also must be made of young handsome Jake Silbermann making his Broadway debut. He handles himself quite well in playing two different roles. He has quite the career ahead of him.
However, the play belongs to Hecht and Light who onstage develop a relationship of power, loyalty and dignity. Despite two husbands who have disappointed both of them, they find each other in a major 'shemance' on the stage. In the end, they are the ones who triumph over adversity put in front of them by the men in their lives.
Special praise has to be given to Santo Loquasto's set which is in its own right a 'star' of the show. Constantly in movement the set helps ad to the turbulence in every room of the house. As characters are swirling around with secrets and conspiracies, the set captures those moments with its own motion. The rooms make you feel at home and you want to pull up a chair and join them at the table.
Assembled Parties is playing at The Manhattan Theatre Club in the Samuel J. Friedman Theater at 261 West 47th Street in New York City.