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A Feminine Ending at Playwrights Horizons
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A Feminine Ending at Playwrights Horizons

- Backstage with the Playwrights

A Feminine Ending
By Sarah Treem
Directed by Blair Brown
Playwrights Horizons

Tim Sanford, Artistic Director
Leslie Marcus, Managing Director
William Russo, General Manager

Marsha Mason (See Mason Drama Credits)
Richard Masur (See Masur Drama Credits)
Alec Beard, Gillian Jacobs, Joe Paulik

Scenic Design by Cameron Anderson
Costume Design by Michael Krass
Lighting Design by Ben Stanton
Original Music & Sound Design by Obadiah Eaves
Casting by Alaine Alldaffer
Director of Development, Jill Garland
Production Stage Manager, Robyn Henry
Production Manager, Shannon Nicole Case
Press Representative, The Publicity Office

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
October 27, 2007

This new play, about conflict and commitment, has potential, but needs momentum and music. The conflict concerns a mother-daughter relationship, with Marsha Mason as a would-have-been artist, Kim, in New Hampshire, and Gillian Jacobs as a still-could-be composer, Amanda, in New York. Then there’s the conflict between Amanda and Alec Beard as a wanna-be rock star, Jack, in New York (Amanda’s sort-of fiancée), and the conflict between Amanda and Joe Paulik as a self-indulgent postman, Billy, in New Hampshire (Amanda’s old and reborn flame). And, finally there’s the conflict between Kim and Richard Masur as an enabling, worn-out husband, David, in New Hampshire.

The element of commitment evolves as Amanda holds her oboe in silent air, soliloquizing interminably about her love of music and her unfinished symphony, but she never commits to expand on that love. Rather, she searches for love from two self-serving men, her pop star boyfriend and her old flame, near a New England apple orchard. While Amanda searches for self-commitment through music, the audience waits for the notes. The oboe is an enormous source of frustration for any music lover in the audience, and Sarah Treem would have been well served to add an oboe score that repeats throughout the production, plus cast a real pianist who could bring the onstage baby grand to life, as it, too, sits almost silent, but for a few aimless bars of Chopin.

The theme of commitment also threads through Kim and David’s relationship, as Kim “finds” a warning in her husband’s jacket pocket, while David finds a warning in Kim’s restlessness. Both parents provide opposite angles to Amanda, who has her own three choices to make, Jack, Billy, or the unfinished symphony. Billy, the postman, also finds new warnings in his quiet New Hampshire lifestyle, as a one-night stand threatens to disrupt his preference for fantasy in the forest, a woodland bench and reveries of old. Where the momentum is needed is difficult to determine, as each scene runs overtime, especially Amanda’s moody monologues.

Kim’s wit and age-referenced, womanly plight is carried superbly by the versatile Marsha Mason, star of stage and screen (big screen and small screen). In fact, Ms. Mason carries the play, with split timing, self-deprecating asides, and poignant desires. Richard Masur, as well, commands the stage with calm presence, seasoned delivery, and at least one memorable scene, in which David learns of his wife’s household exit, greets the news almost mechanically, and then exits himself into the offstage kitchen, where he smashes everything in sight. And, now, once again, the need for music. A play about unrequited love and unrequited music needs music, well woven, with one sumptuous score to bring the oboe, piano, imaginary symphony, and Jack’s rock music to life. In the next incarnation of this play, Ms. Treem might add a recorded score, or cast real musicians as Amanda (on oboe and piano) and Jack (on vocals and guitar).

A FEMININE ENDING, a new play by Sarah Treem
Photo Credit: JOAN MARCUS

A FEMININE ENDING, a new play by Sarah Treem
Photo Credit: JOAN MARCUS

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For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at