Two years ago Linda Lavin was Tony-nominated for her work in Nicky Silver's dark comedy "The Lyons." Now Lavin is back on the New York boards in another Silver play, the Vineyard Theatre's staging of "Too Much Sun." David Cote of Time Out New York filed the following report.
Playwright Nicky Silver is no shock-monger, but he’s not averse to a jolt now and then from his tortured protagonists. The most perverse thing he could do is write is a sweetly self-sacrificing mother.
Enter stage diva Audrey Langham, played by the divine Linda Lavin and the center of Silver’s latest comedy, "Too Much Sun."
She wants the best for her daughter, even if it makes her miserable.
Although first revealed flubbing her lines in a regional production of Medea, Audrey is one of the more nurturing of Silver’s monstrous moms.
In fact, "Too Much Sun" finds the bitterly hilarious playwright in a kinder, melancholic—dare I say—semi-Chekhovian mood.
The Anton vibe is helped by the setting of "Too Much Sun" being idyllic Cape Cod, where Audrey descends upon her neurotic, estranged daughter, Kitty, played by Jennifer Westfeldt, and contemplates leaving showbiz.
Kitty’s dilettante-writer husband chafes at his mother-in-law’s unwelcome visit, but he’s got more on his mind, namely a teen neighbor who deals pot.
Pretty soon Audrey has her own romantic designs on said teen’s widower dad, played with patrician grace by Richard Bekins.
Silver stirs in an angsty assistant to Audrey’s agent for extra laughs. All the playwright’s trademarks are here—dragon mom, damaged daughter, sexual betrayal.
They emerge fresh in Mark Brokaw’s smart, delicate staging. For her part, Lavin sucks the poison out of every zinger, swirls it for a moment, then spits it out. She savors acts of emotional brutality—some, it turns out, morally defensible—like they’re vintage wine.
No one would mistake a Nicky Silver play for a breezy summer read, but "Too Much Sun" warms more than it burns.