Sarah Jessica Parker has returned to the New York stage, starring opposite Blythe Danner in "The Commons of Pensacola," a new work inspired by a recent headline-grabbing case and written by actress-turned-writer Amanda Peet. Time Out New York's David Cote filed the following review for NY1.
As Bernard Madoff continues to serve his 150-year sentence, do you ever wonder what became of the Ponzi king's family? Amanda Peet sure has. Adding playwright to her resume, the film star puts a Ruth Madoff-inspired wife and her daughter at the center of her debut, "The Commons of Pensacola."
In this 80-minute domestic drama, Peet displays some skill for fluid dialogue and tight plotting. She just doesn't know what story she wants to tell.
The action unfolds in a mid-level Florida condominium, where Blythe Danner's Judith has gone to retire and escape the media glare after her husband's financial scandals. It's the day before Thanksgiving, and the feisty but frail grandmother is joined by her daughter, Becca, a struggling actress played by Sex and the City icon Sarah Jessica Parker, and her granddaughter, Lizzie, played by Zoe Levin. Becca also brings along her younger boyfriend, Gabe, a freelance reporter played by Michael Stahl-David.
There's a tropical storm on the horizon, and yes, that's a not-so-subtle metaphor for family upheavals to come. A wad of cash in Judith's freezer is the first sign something's not right.
Lynn Meadow's staging moves along at a clip, with smart, deeply felt performances by Danner and Parker. The two stage vets are able to navigate the play's shifts in emotional weather with style, from humorous to heartbroken.
While "Commons" fizzles in its final showdown and the ending feels unresolved, this production smooths over the bumps. To use the lingo of finance, the Manhattan Theatre Club is making an investment in Peet.