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Lincoln Center Theater at the Mitzi E. Newhouse Presents "Domesticated" with Laurie Metcalf and Jeff Goldblum
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Lincoln Center Theater at the Mitzi E. Newhouse Presents "Domesticated" with Laurie Metcalf and Jeff Goldblum

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Lincoln Center Theater
At the Mitzi E. Newhouse
Andre Bishop: Producing Artistic Director

(Show Web Page)
By Bruce Norris

Vanessa Aspillaga, Mia Barron, Robin De Jesus,
Jeff Goldblum, Lizbeth Mackay, Emily Meade, Laurie Metcalf,
Mary Beth Peil, Karen Pittman, Aleque Reid, Misha Seo

Directed by Anna D. Shapiro
Sets: Todd Rosenthal
Costumes: Jennifer von Mayrhauser
Lighting: James F. Ingalls
Sound: John Gromada
Stage Manager: Jane Grey
Casting: Daniel Swee
Exec. Dir., Development & Planning: Hattie K. Jutagir
Director of Marketing: Linda Mason Ross
General Press Agent: Philip Rinaldi
Managing Director: Adam Siegel
General Manager: Jessica Niebanck
Production Manager: Jeff Hamlin

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
November 10, 2013, Matinee

We’ve seen this scenario before, the politician’s disgrace at the podium, with cameras flashing and the “good wife” stiff, tight-lipped, and tense. But Bruce Norris’ new play, Domesticated, has the misfortune to over-expand the dis-ease of the news event, peeling and unpeeling the onion of Bill’s compulsive cheating and lying, in nauseating screaming fits in marital and post-marital scenes. Many of us have been here and know that moment of tortuous finality and shock to the equilibrium, but Mr. Norris’ out-of-control word-spewing that fires the air and wounds the gut falls like dirty snow. He not only expands on the grating, foul discourse of a marital split, but he’s relentless in its frequent re-appearance. Jeff Goldblum is Bill, the politician (and former gynecologist, really) with the requisite wandering eye, and Laurie Metcalf is Judy, Bill’s pained wife. Two daughters, Misha Seo (Cassidy, adopted), and Emily Meade (Casey, older daughter), further expand the text. Misha adds balance and enlightenment, with illustrative slide shows of fish, birds, and animals’ mating and nurturing habits. Cassidy is seen first, speaking softly, slowly and academically, a deliberate contrast to Casey’s shrill diatribes and histrionics.

Additional characters are a psychologist, a young prostitute in a coma, from falling or being pushed onto a bed, in an altercation with Bill, the girl’s mother, a doctor, a bartender, Bill’s mother, a talk show host, a policewoman, a translator, a stage manager, a tour guide, and a surprising and stunning tour de force role for Robin De Jesus. That role (to be seen live) is a show-stopper, although brief. Mia Barron, as Bobbie, Judy’s lawyer, is a longtime friend of Judy and a past, intimate friend of Bill. The reasoning for representation spit out in Bobbie’s sharp excuses was truly feeble. Karen Pittman has Oprah Winfrey nailed down as the talk host, with bold, brisk gestures The play drags on for two acts, with little additional plot, unhappily, as Bill continues to lie, Laurie tries to leave him (with grotesque, graphic tantrums and use of a guitar as a weapon), Casey blames everyone for the discontent, and Misha introduces new nature slides and lectures. The audience laughed at almost all and everything, as the scenes were sitcom-ish, but the laughter was nervous and razor-shrill as the dialogue.

Ms. Metcalf is an actor’s actor, throwing herself into the role with astute poignancy and persuasion. She was, however, not afforded the poignant language that would have deepened the experience. Her facial and bodily gestures are always meaningful and riveting. Mr. Goldblum was seen from the back, from my vantage point, early on, so I could observe his wooden and weakened stance. Later on, his facial expression was wan and distanced, except for a turn at flirtation in the bar. There, he was the slick salesman. Bill had a forced boyishness, wistfully reminiscing about serenading Judy after they met. That boyishness extended to Bill’s internalized need to fabricate and hide. He even hid his face in his hands, a dinner table, tear-jerker stunt, but Judy wasn’t buying. Anna Shapiro directs for slicing wit and outsized characterizations, the latter especially effective in recycling secondary actors in multiple roles. Todd Rosenthal’s sets are mostly minimal, with the bar scene particularly engaging. The minimalist feature of the sets is wonderful for this theater in the round. John Gromada’s sound and James F. Ingalls’ lighting are well designed for this space.

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