note: entire contents copyright 2016 by Richard Pacheco
Bruce Graham’s irreverent and politically incorrect “Any Given Monday” at Theatre One is a merry, sassy, darkly funny romp with some unexpected twists and turns as it takes a look at marital infidelity, football and philosophy. It is the winner of the 2010 Barrymore Award for Best New Play. The cast, directed by Peg Holzemer is spirited, energetic and robust, full of strong comic timing and dark humor. It is a twisted morality play.
Set in Lenny’s living room with a few asides, the play introduces daughter Sarah an undergraduate philosophy student about to graduate and considering going on for a master’s degree. Then there is Lenny a Jewish teacher married for 24 years who is a bit of a wimp and rarely if ever gets angry no matter what happens. He has been couch bound since his wife Risa, walked out to move in with her very flashy lover, a real estate mogul who is all ego and bucks. Finally there is Mickey, Lenny’s lifelong friend who works for the transit authority. Sarah finds his current condition intellectually stimulating although she finds his wimpy behavior unacceptable. There are some twists and turns which shifts all this into a crucial moral dilemma which will have an effect on all involved.
Mix these together and you get a wild ride of politically incorrect and moral dilemma questions. It all unfolds with Monday night football in the background on the television.
Manny Moitoso is Lenny, the world’s most decent and patient guy, in fact too patient and decent for his own good. Lenny is too agreeable, and really subservient to his wife. His daughter Sarah in one of her monologues sums it up while talking about a tough Jewish lawyer who when his wife merely raises an eyebrow, immediately whimps out and runs to buy her an expensive gift. Lenny is of the same ilk. Moitoso is excellent as the laid back, moral Jewish man intimidated by his wife to the endth degree, to the point of not even being angry that she left and ready to take her back at a moment’s notice without a fight at all without even righteous anger. Moitoso is convincing in his emotional evolution as the play unfolds.
Bob Genereau is Lenny’s lifetime friend, the real salt of the earth Mick, who works in the subway and has a different view of life because of what he sees and experiences during his life below ground. Genereau delivers an honest performance as a man dedicated to his lifelong friend determined to do whatever is necessary to make things right and help his friend be happy moral qualms notwithstanding. He shows a fine comic finesse and solid comic timing.
Vanessa Lima is Sarah, the philosophy minded daughter who wants her father to grow a pair and not serve as a doormat for her mom. She is intrigued by questions of philosophy, particularly moral questions and seeking solutions to moral dilemmas both the esoteric abstract kind as well as those that exist in daily life. Lima is confident and sincere in her performances and she writhes through the array of moral morass she must confront in her life with her parents situation and the unusual things which arise.
Finally there is Risa, Lenny’s wife and Sarah’s mother, a woman who finds herself bored after 24 years of marriage and wants to feel alive again without thinking of the consequences or personal cost for her or the rest of her family. Risa is self absorbed and aware of her needs but seems to lack a genuine concern for how her actions affect anyone else. She knows what she wants though and isn’t afraid to go after it with passion and conviction. Susan Salvensen is Risa and she is poised, confident and manages the right hint of boredom in her relationship with her husband it a highly convincing performance.
Peg Saurman Holzemer directs this raucous black comedy with skill and finesse with sharp pacing and an eye and ear for the right comic touches.
John Marzilli’s set, Lenny’s living room, works with nothing too ostentatious, but simply and serviceable.
“Any Given Monday” is a merry ride into the politically incorrect with outrageous events and deep moral choices by the characters in between all the laughs and sometimes the cause of them. If you are tired to the apologetic politically incorrect dogma, then this is one for you to see.
It continues on Jan. 14, 15, 16 at 7:30 p.m. and again Jan 22 and 23 at 7:30 p.m., with a Sunday Matinee at 2 p.m. on Jan. 24. All shows are at the Alley Theatre, at 133 Centre St. in Middleboro. Doors open 30 minutes prior to the performance. General admission is $20, with seniors/students at $18 — cash only at door. On opening Night, Jan.14, all tickets are $18. Free Parking at the Middleboro Town Hall