The Little Flower of East Orange

Now that I have unpacked and read every media publication that came in the front door while we are on vacation (god forbid I should miss two weeks of trivia for my head), I can not enter back into everyday life.  Last night it began by having a date with Emily and going to see The Little Flower of East Orange a new play by Stephen Adly Guirgis.

This play is directed by Philip Seymour Hoffman through the Labyrinth Theater Company that is hosted by the Public Theater. We were members of the Public a few years back but found that being a member was not a seamless process so in the end, we opted out.  Now I understand why they work the way they do.  The Public is a large umbrella that puts on their own productions and others for organizations such as the Labyrinth.  You might be a member that has purchased a package of 8 performances over the course of the year but instead of giving you the dates in the fall like MTC or Second Stage, they send you a postcard giving you a few weeks to get a seat.  Sometimes that works but for me, I found it worked less than more.   The reason for the postcard is that  MTC might only put on 8 plays a year where the Public might house and put on their own which can add up to 12-15.  Regardless, last night’s play was fantastic.

They play takes place in New York City, past and present, centered around a mother, Terri, who has kept a secret for many years.  As she teeters on the brink of death we learn of her life, the ghosts of her past who come to haunt her and the relationships she now has with her two children.  Michael Shannon, who plays the son is incredible.  His emotions run the gamut as a guy that should be in rehab.  I am not sure how he gets up there every night and does it.  Terri, is played by Ellen Burstyn, is also amazing.  The range of her emotions without very little use of her body considering her character is unable to walk, is spectacular.  There are times when she was crying that I started to feel my eyes well up.  There were other times I just laughed out loud.  David Zayas, who plays the nurse helper,  has to be mentioned, because every time he walked on stage, he lit it up.  I could go on about each performance because truthfully each actor was pretty amazing.

The show lasts about 2 hours and 20 minutes with an intermission in the middle.  The scenery was simple.  It was all about the performance.  When the show ended,  I felt as if the entire audience all had their jaws dropped.  Performances are funny, you can be in the mood one night and think it is total wow and you can go another night and think eh.  For me, last night, The Little Flower of East Orange was well worth seeing.