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Manhattan Theatre Club Presents "The Commons of Pensacola" at NY City Center Stage I
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Manhattan Theatre Club Presents "The Commons of Pensacola" at NY City Center Stage I

- Backstage with the Playwrights

75 9th Avenue
Chelsea Market
New York, NY 10011
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Manhattan Theatre Club
The Commons of Pensacola
(The Commons of Pensacola Website)

By Amanda Peet
Directed by Lynne Meadow

Manhattan Theatre Club
NY City Center Stage I
West 55th Street, Btw. 6th and 7th Avenues

Artistic Director, Lynne Meadow
Executive Producer, Barry Grove

Blythe Danner, Zoe Levin, Ali Marsh
Sarah Jessica Parker, Michael Stahl-David, Nilaja Sun

Scenic Design: Santo Loquasto
Costume Design: Tom Broecker
Lighting Design: Jason Lyons
Sound Design: Jill BC Du Boff
Fight Direction: Thomas Schall
Production Stage Manager: Diane DiVita
Casting: Caparelliotis Casting
& Kelly Gillespie
General Manager: Florie Seery
Press: Boneau/Bryan-Brown
Artistic Producer: Mandy Greenfield
Director of Artistic Development: Jerry Patch
Director of Marketing: Debra Waxman-Pilla
Director of Development: Lynne Randall
Production Manager: Joshua Helman
Artistic Line Producer: Lisa McNulty
Director of Casting: Nancy Piccione
General Manager, The Commons of Pensacola:
Lindsey Sag

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
January 3, 2014

Full disclosure, I binge-watched, years ago, every episode of Sarah Jessica Parker’s “Sex and the City”, plus the films, and loved them. But that was television and the movies, and tonight was live theater. As Becca, Ms. Parker was type cast as a young woman with a cheating boyfriend, and that was literally one of the most dramatic moments of this sitcom-ish play. Amanda Peet made her debut as playwright here, having starred in theater, movies, and television. The Commons of Pensacola, named for an inexpensive, Florida condo community, might actually make a great sitcom series, but, even in its intermission-less, one-act format, it was achingly slow-moving.

Becca’s mother, Judith (Blythe Danner), has been forced to give up most of her property and funds, as her husband was jailed for scamming investor clients, while he and his wife lived well. Judith’s other daughter, Ali (Ali Marsh), estranged herself from the family to preserve her reputation. Ali’s teen daughter, Lizzy (Zoe Levin), surreptitiously arrives at the Commons for Thanksgiving (that oft-dreaded, annual family saga), to bond with her relatives. Also present for the event is Gabe (Michael Stahl-David), Becca’s boyfriend, who’s planning a docudrama series about Judith’s financial fall. The final character in this ensemble is Lorena (Nilaja Sun), Judith’s maid, a comic delight. If it were not for the incessant, inappropriate humor of bodily defects, and the sometime, sing-song-y delivery of dialogue, the play may have been more engrossing. As it happened, the production was entertaining, but, again, on a level of shallow, sarcastic humor. It milked the theme of getting old and losing the trappings of financial ease. One poignant moment occurred in a monologue of Becca’s true lifestyle, but Judith’s neediness overwhelmed the effect.

Lynne Meadow is a master director. She was able to create some suspense within private moments between Gabe and Lizzy and within a refrigerator search. But, within the play, the characters were not likeable. They did not evoke empathy. Santo Loquasto is also a master stage designer, and he created just enough shabbiness and frailty to the Florida apartment to lend nuance in its lack of glamor. With the familial diatribes and coarseness, glamor would have just enhanced the sense of nouveaux riche. They had bought the luxuries of class when they had stolen money to spend. Now they had just each other. Jason Lyons’ lighting shifted with time of day, and Tom Broecker’s costumes were appropriately every-day. Jill BC Du Boff’s sound kept dialogue crisp, and Thomas Schall taught the actors to actually fight. I look forward to Manhattan Theatre Club’s next production.

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