A dark new British drama called "Linda" is making its New York debut at Manhattan Theatre Club. Roma Torre filed the following review.
"Linda" at Manhattan Theatre Club made me squirm. Penelope Skinner's perceptive drama tells the tale of a highly successful marketing executive who's spent her life and career determined to have it all. Of course, it's an elusive fantasy, and MTC's absorbing production felt like a mirror reflecting on us all.
Linda is 55 and at the top of her game. We first meet her at the office enthusiastically pitching an anti-aging product for women over 50. Later, we see her at home whipping up a risotto that would make Martha Stewart proud. Her husband moonlights in a rock band, and her younger daughter is bright and motivated. The only crack in the family veneer is depressive 25-year-old daughter Alice, who insists on wearing a skunk costume.
The play is overly plotted but engaging nonetheless, as Linda's happy home and job start to unravel. A younger woman is brought into the office to take over her account. The marriage falters and Alice, unable to cope with a teenage trauma, grows more and more alienated from her mother.
What may seem at first to be a feminist manifesto turns into a cold slap in the face. Linda, like so many women her age, is caught in a web partly of her own making. Success at all costs ends up costing her a lot.
Lynne Meadow's keen direction covers all the bases from funny to sad, and she makes excellent use of Walt Spangler's extraordinary multi-roomed rotating set.
At the center of it all is a bravura performance by Janie Dee. Displaying an impressive range from headstrong to heedless, she hits a raw nerve. Despite Linda's missteps, we can't help but follow her straight down the rabbit hole of hollow success.
"Linda" is somewhat melodramatic and feels contrived in spots. But the takeaway is powerful. Watching Linda's grand ambitions implode on that MTC stage is a chilling reminder that there's no such thing as Wonder Woman, just a wonder that we working moms manage to survive at all.