note: entire contents copyright 2001 by Beverly Creasey
On the face of it, "Visiting Mr. Green" seems to be a heart-warming little play about becoming a mensch. But "Visiting Mr. Green" turns out to be far more. Jeff Barron's quirky comedy/drama tackles a few serious issues along the way: like what it means to be a good Jew and what it takes to become a compassionate human being. Like a master weaver, Barron works new threads into the story which enrich the tapestry as the story unfolds.
Mr. Green is an 86 year old widower who has lost his zest for life. He almost lost his life when he stepped into oncoming traffic at a busy intersection. The young man who almost hit him ---- Mr. Green fell anyway ---- has been ordered by the court to perform community service...and that service is it visit Mr. Green. Both men have experienced loneliness and each fills an empty place in the other's life.
Ross never knew his grandparents so Mr. Green gets to "teach [him] everything!" Most profoundly, Mr. Green finds redemption and renewal through his friendship with Ross....and Ross finds comfort in his relationship with the older man. Barron's witty, contemporary script is delightfully funny, with the curmudgeonly Mr. Green grousing about all the attention he's getting when we know he adores it.
Director Daniel Gidron's savvy production could go right to Broadway. In fact, after its run at the Jewish Theatre of New England it's going to Merrimac Rep. You won't find better rapport than these two actors have with each other. Barry Abramowitz is the quintessential New Yorker: smart, hip, and successful. Abramowitz radiates cosmopolitan charm. Sam Gray, as Mr. Green, gives a heartbreaking performance as a man whose unwillingness to forgive has cost him dearly. Gidron manages a lyrical flow to the comedy and takes his time in the poignant, touching moments.