That Face at Manhattan Theater Group

Left-side I admit, I came with very little information before seeing this play.  The only thing I knew was that the play was written by Polly Stenham, a 19 year out of England where the play was given rousing reviews and awards.  In two countries where English is spoken, it doesn't always translate. 

On the positive side, the acting is fantastic particularly Cristin Milioti as Mia and Christopher Abbott as Henry.  The drama is about a totally dysfunctional privileged family.  The daughter Mia is kicked out of boarding school for giving a 13 year old girl in her dorm an overdose of valium while attempting to torture her in some type of dorm ritual.  Her mother is home being cared for by her 18 year old brother who has dropped out of school and believes he can help his alcoholic mentally unstable mother.  The father split 5 years back leaving a wreck in his wake while he remarried and had another child.  The father eventually returns to the scene after being called from the school about his daughter's antics.  His appearance is feared by the children particularly charming artistic Henry who believes he is strong enough to deal with insane Mummy.

That in a nutshell is the tale.  You wonder how these two children, 16 and 18, will be as adults based on their completely insane childhood.  The audience gets the sheet torturous pleasure of watching Henry and Mummy spiral out of control while Mia crawls into herself while she rages internally. 

The play, 90 minutes long, with no intermission, left the audience shell-shocked.  Even when the actors came on stage for their bows, the applause was there but the actors looked exhausted from the entire experience too.  We walked out of the theater listening to the other patrons figure out a way to sum up the incredibly depressing play that we all just witnessed. 

Regardless, I have signed us up again for next year at MTC.  You can't expect perfection at every turn.  As a rule, they do a damn good job. 

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