OF GOOD STOCK - A Review - When the Dysfuction in the Family isn't Yours.....

If you thought family dysfunction was just in 'other families' take a good look at your next family get-together.  When you are 'in it' you may not 'see it' but when you are in the audience watching someone else's family get together, it's clear that there will be lots of familiar stuff.


Playwriter Melissa Ross does a wonderful job in this dramedy of  family, fighting, frustration and friendship as she gives us an intimate look at the Stockton's of Cape Cod.  Lynne Meadow, the plays' visionary director, has accepted every major theater award on behalf of her company.


And I must mention Santo Loquasto, who may not be a household name, but is responsible for the gorgeous set design.  He has received three Tony Awards and has been nominated 18 times.  He can decorate my home any time he is avaliable and willing.


One might say that Of Good Stock was just another family-gets-together, family-fights, family-makes up, type of play and you are right.  But, mix that formula with 6 incredibly talented, non-stop performances and set it on a stage so beautifully designed that you just might want to move in, and you have a play that feeds to your emotions, your laughter and the desire to just join in with coffee and bacon on the beach in Cape Cod.


The Stockton sisters, daughters of a late, legendary, novelist-womanizer, get together at their late dad's incredibly beautiful Cape Cod home right on the ocean.    It is the 41st birthday of the eldest sister, Jess (Jennifer Mudge), who is battling breast cancer.  Mudge gives an excellent performance and happens to be the 'owner' of the home dad left, but you don't get to that fight until later on in the show.


Youngest sister Celia (Heather Lind) although the flake of the family, plays her role more like Alicia Silverstone did in Clueless and although she's sometimes over-the-top, she's convincing.  Her boyfriend, and the future father of her yet unborn child (Nate Miller), is clueless himself and although he is a college drop out at 30, he means well.   Amy (Alicia Silverstone), is the only actor in this play that could have done better, although she did well as a high shrilled, crybaby Bridezilla to her almost husband (Greg Keller).  Let's say that she did come to dinner with her fiancé, whom she was planning to marry in Tahiti, but he didn't stay the entire weekend, as dysfunction came to a head and he realized ' this might not be what he wanted.' 


After a couple of drinks and a good Cuban cigar, and a good talk with his 'almost' brother-in-law, Fred, Jess's husband (Kelly AuCoin), literally peels out of the driveway and then, well, I won't spoil it for you.


I have to give a special nod to all 3 men in their very individualized roles.  AuCoin played the perfect husband  and host, who walks on edge every time the word 'cancer' comes up or he attempts to be intimate with his wife.  Miller, with 12 siblings in his family, is having no problem just floating wherever life takes him.  Whatever happens on stage, at least one of his siblings had it worse.  And although Keller does make his mass exit during the play, we knew he wasn't long for this relationship as he 'tried his hardest' to cope with Amy's behavior.  If I were a guy, I would have walked out too.


As I looked around the beautiful 300 seat theatre, I saw a lot of older women who were chatting about their own sisters and how anxious they were to see a play about 'dysfunction.'  Whether their families measured up to the issues the Stockton sisters faced, faces and will face in the future, is all a matter of interpretation.


I laughed a lot.  Maybe because so much of the narcissism reminded me of my own family.  The touching moments got right to the point where, if I was going to cry, someone said something that made me laugh.  Kind of like the funeral scene in Steel Magnolias;  you are relieved when you get to laugh at the most inappropriate times.


It seems the use of profanity is necessary in order to rid yourself of your problems. That I can relate to.  And there certainly wasn't a shortage of either problems or profanity  in the beach scene as all 3 sisters realize that life can suck, but they always have each other.


Take a girlfriend, preferably one that has multiple siblings.  But if she doesn’t, don’t worry because she just might be thankful she’s an only child.



Manhattan Theatre Club presents the New York premiere of Of Good Stock, the new play by Melissa Ross, directed by MTC's award-winning Artistic Director Lynne Meadow. The limited engagement opened on June 30, at MTC at New York City Center - Stage I (131 West 55th Street).

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