Time Out Theater Review: "Sweet And Sad"
The Public Theater recently debuted a very timely work, "Sweet And Sad," that is set on the 10th anniversary of the September 11th attacks. Time Out New York contributing critic David Cote filed the following review.
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We don’t get many sequels in the theater. Aside from Shakespeare’s histories or Tom Stoppard’s "Coast Of Utopia," plays tend to be one-off affairs. So Richard Nelson’s ongoing trilogy of the Apple family, charting its personal and political evolution, is unique.
Last year, Nelson introduced the Apples in "That Hopey Changey Thing." Now, in "Sweet And Sad," they reunite for the 10th anniversary of September 11th.
The previous play was set on Election Night 2010, and again Nelson picks a politically and emotionally resonant day for the action. It’s the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on New York and the Pentagon, and the action returns to Rhinebeck in upstate New York, where the Apples convene for dinner and not-so-small talk about personal tragedies and the cynical national mood.
There are three sisters -- schoolteachers Barbara and Marian, played by Maryann Plunkett and Laila Robins, and author Jane, played by J. Smith-Cameron -- and their brother, Richard, a corporate lawyer played by Jay O. Sanders.
Shuler Hensley, as Jane’s actor boyfriend Tim, also visits. And let’s not forget Uncle Benjamin, an actor who had a heart attack and now suffers from amnesia, played by Jon DeVries.
Not much happens in "Sweet And Sad." It’s drama in a minor key, subdued but no less intense for its hushed, conversational tones and the delicate avoidance of overt conflict or the painful issues.
Richard Nelson directs his top-notch, seasoned actors with a light touch, achieving a warm, unforced realism that is utterly convincing and involving.
I missed the first installment of Nelson’s family trilogy, but now that I know the Apples, I look forward to having dinner with them on Election Day 2012.