Manhattan Theatre Club presents the NY premiere of Richard Greenberg's new play starring Linda Lavin as a mother with a shocking secret that threatens her children. More…
On the verge of death for the umpteenth time, Anna (Lavin) makes a shocking confession to her grown children: an affair from her past that just might have resonance beyond the family. But how much of what she says is true? While her children try to separate fact from fiction, Anna fights for a legacy she can be proud of.
"Greenberg’s writing is elegant and keenly epigrammatic...'Our Mother’s Brief Affair' leaves you to wonder how much this scandal has been retouched. But there is no doubt as to the casual mastery that Lavin, at 78, brings to the part. Shifting in and out of the past, elevating one-liners to three-dimensionality, she brings a lifetime of command to the stage." Full Review
"Like so many of Greenberg’s chamber-sized social studies, 'Our Mother’s Brief Affair' is witty and elegantly precise about funny, flawed individuals with a sense of history beyond the latest headline...Greenberg takes us on unexpected turns in what sound at first to be ordinary family secrets. Meadow brings a tender mercilessness to the style." Full Review
"The play serves as an enchanting excursion into a dying woman's sensual psyche, as well as a brilliant vehicle for one of the more masterly female players gracing our stage today, Linda Lavin…The puzzles Mr. Greenberg provides regarding what actually took place, when, and with precisely whom, mount from moment to moment. Laughs are numerous and assist an avid interest from the audience…Lynne Meadow accomplished the staging with a fluidity that did not intrude on the story." Full Review
"The play allows all of its characters at one point or another to become narrators, the problem is, none of them are very reliable, so who we believe is strictly up to us...A warm, intellectually complex essay about the difficulty of forgiving ourselves for our sins...The play can be enjoyed as a light comedy with charming performances from its ensemble." Full Review
"It has enigmatic hints of Harold Pinter in it as well, though Mr. Greenberg’s ear for his New York upper middle class and blue collar characters is alluringly accurate...Director Lynne Meadow has staged the free-flowing material neatly and clearly...I would have preferred more of a catharsis for her Anna, but that cannot diminish the great pleasure I experienced from the first-rate support she received from the other three actors." Full Review
"What both tips 'Brief Affair' off-balance and makes it strangely fascinating is a bizarre plot twist, near the end of the first act…Lynne Meadow's thoughtful direction culls affecting performances from Greg Keller and Kate Arrington...But Lavin's richly nuanced performance is the production's anchor and its treasure...We may never get to know her fully, any more than her children do, but we leave grateful for the time we've had." Full Review
"So far this is cut and dried and not that out of the ordinary. What stokes the proceedings with suspense is playwright Greenberg’s elegant use of language and metaphor. He is a master of the well-placed quip and withering aside. His unerring understanding of these characters and their inner lives makes the truth be told; ‘we have heard all this before tale’, completely fascinating." Full Review
"I found this quiet play so moving...Mr. Greenberg's play is not perfect, but it is thought provoking and contains one terrific performance by Ms Lavin. Santo Loquasto’s beautiful set is wonderfully lit by Peter Zaczorowski." Full Review
"The affair is quite a shocker. Well, it's a shocker only after they employ a theatrical device to turn up the lights break the 4th wall and have the two children explain to the audience what their mother just admitted to...Tender, tough, heartbreaking, funny, and warm all at the same time. In the end, the message is summed up by Anna to her son by explaining all she ever wanted was to be remembered." Full Review
"It’s routine theater fodder, until the first act skids to a halt, lights come up and the kids break the fourth wall to explain that, to the best of their knowledge, the man their mother was caught up with was of some historical significance...It takes the generic, and I daresay hardly earth-shaking knowledge that a parent had an affair, and throws it up against a specific political event...It’s a beautifully performed play." Full Review
"The audience responded actively to the comical prompts of mainly Anna and her lover, as Linda Lavin and John Procaccino’s performances were the most relatable…The 'less is more' format under Lynne Meadow’s direction worked well for the play and helped eliminate excessive distractions…For a play which at first glance appeared to be reserved for highfalutin’ idioms, in reality the word choice and language was authentic and of great value." Full Review
"All four performances are quite strong but it is Lavin's show. In addition, while Greenberg's dialogue is predictably glib and witty, the play's darker tones allow Lavin - known for her comic skills - to flex her dramatic chops here. And she is sublime. Director Lynne Meadow's subtle and sensitive direction can't quite overcome the play's structural flaws." Full Review
"Any opportunity to see Linda Lavin on stage is one worth seizing and although her latest Broadway project may not be the most riveting piece of theater, it shouldn’t be disregarded. 'Our Mother’s Brief Affair' is a quiet and profound glimpse into the layered complexities of human interaction...The play tends to drag in places, leaving one to wish that this affair were even more brief. By the end however, questions of truth, ethics, and life validation will inevitably unfold." Full Review
"It becomes a thoughtful exploration of the ramifications of our ability to blame and forgive ourselves, but along the way it’s can be a choppy, laborious two-hour journey...Lavin brings beautifully muted passion to a woman Seth describes as 'warm-cold' — and makes this an 'Affair' worth remembering." Full Review
"Richard Greenberg’s take on end-of-life issues offers a refreshing lightness and honesty…Under Lynne Meadow’s smartly understated direction, the actors paint a convincing portrait of a family facing down a conundrum…Greenberg endows his characters with an engaging intelligence and originality, but he could get even more out of them if he would find more spots in the script where ideas could be conveyed through dramatic action rather than commentary." Full Review
"An untethered play about unmoored lives...Throughout this production, directed a shade too tentatively by Lynne Meadow, Ms. Lavin’s poses unfailingly match, and even amplify, Mr. Greenberg’s exquisite prose...I wish the play that surrounds her were more compellingly realized...As a mystery drama, 'Our Mother’s Brief Affair' never acquires much urgency, despite the fretful, fine-grained ambivalence of all the performances." Full Review
"Mr. Greenberg has engaged with his material in an unequivocally personal way this time around...While the results are flawed, I was never bored and some parts are quite moving…Unfortunately, 'Our Mother’s Brief Affair' slithers off the track at midpoint...It runs for two hours and would be far stronger had it been cut to an intermission-free hour and a half...It is, however, very well staged by Lynne Meadow and persuasively acted by all hands." Full Review
"The play has two things going for it. In addition to the revelation inherent in discovering Ms. Lavin’s extensive gifts, there is the lively art of playwright Richard Greenberg...It’s a winning combination. This is not his most flawless play…It’s an extravagant ruse, bogged down in contrived exposition, that doesn’t quite work. Richard Greenberg always amazes with his precise selection of words and images, and Linda Lavin serves him well." Full Review
"The densely constructed piece also happens to be frustratingly sprawling, nevertheless it has the ability to amuse and stir hearts...They are all performances to savor, and oftentimes they are enough to help theatergoers overlook the moments when Greenberg attempts to make his play more grandiose than it probably needs to be." Full Review
"The cast deals with the text in a nimble manner that keeps the audience engaged in the story as it finds its footing until its less than fulfilling conclusion. Lavin is the glue holding everything together. Her performance switches from heartbreaking to hysterical without skipping a beat...Unfortunately though, the play is flawed. While it speaks to the universal issue of aging parents and the mystique of their lives while their children grow up, it doesn't go much farther than that." Full Review
"The characters of Seth and Abby are not as well developed or interesting as Anna, and it isn’t clear why it matters that Seth can’t find a partner or Abby is toying with leaving hers...Lavin always is a pleasure to watch on stage, and while this may not be as successful as Greenberg’s last play, 'Our Mother’s Brief Affair' delivers a lot to enjoy." Full Review
"In the early stretches of 'Our Mother's Brief Affair,' I thought, Linda Lavin should be grateful for playwright Richard Greenberg. A little later, I realized I had it backwards… Lavin commandeers a role that fits her as snugly as the classic Burberry coat that is the character's fondest possession…'Our Mother's Brief Affair' is a situation in search of a play, or perhaps the material for a striking short story stretched thin over two full acts." Full Review
"Richard Greenberg is a smart, articulate, entertaining author whose specificity enriches his plays. 'Our Mother’s Brief Affair,' however, is less successful than most I’ve seen...While one understands the need to explain something of which few of us were aware, this is so detailed it veers on polemic...Director Lynne Meadow has kept transitions fluid from period to period. Two-handed scenes with Anna and Phil are sensitively realized." Full Review
"The play ought to be an intricate study of personal and political betrayal but, though ably directed by Lynne Meadow, never quite delivers on the promise of its material...Greenberg’s inexhaustible supply of polished one-liners makes this an enjoyable evening nonetheless — as does Lavin’s performance, which culminates in a monologue that captures truths about love and death at which the rest of the play merely clutches." Full Review
"The playwright probably has something to say about forgiveness or the allure of bad boys, but while there's a decent amount of cleverness in his lines, the story never amounts to anything of significant consequence. Director Lynne Meadow's production is fine and neither she nor her actors should be blamed for the overall sluggishness of the overwritten proceedings, but aside from Lavin, 'Our Mother's Brief Affair' is hardly one to remember." Full Review
See it if you like to see and hear different perspectives and a story told from different points of view.
Don't see it if you like a straight story with a definitive beginning, middle, end.
See it if I liked it, found the story line a true surprise, and the dialogue around it interesting. Linda Lavin, as always, a wonderful performance.
Don't see it if Might not be for everyone. Topic moves between aging and politics.
See it if Have never heard of Linda Lavin and would like to see an exquisite actress play the classic Jewish mother stereotype fresh & witty.
Don't see it if You prefer not to have to listen carefully. The writing is masterful!
See it if ...if you appreciate top-level acting by the amazing Linda Lavin as an elderly woman who may or may not have a secret she's now revealing.
Don't see it if ...if you don't like comedy-dramas with historical references that for some need explaining; or you find stories about older people blah.
See it if I enjoyed the show. I think anyone who grew up in a Jewish household, from the NY Metro area will get it more.
Don't see it if your sensitive to dimensia...even if in a humorous way
See it if u'er a Linda Lavin & Richard Greenberg fan -- 2 masters of theater. Production values tops, play more narrated than dramatized, v/ skillful.
Don't see it if u don't enjoy cerebral, perhaps overly talky plays w/ a main character who may be lying to her children and us. Has she convinced herself?
See it if Like Linda Lavin, can relate to the Jewish mother genre, appreciate Greeberg's witty dialogue; or just want to support MTC and new plays.
Don't see it if only like musicals...or edgy drama...or if you are not a Linda Lavin fan. It's 100% her show.
See it if You're a Linda Lavin fan. She is amazing as to be expected. And you would like to see her great legs again! If you appreciate great acting.
Don't see it if You're expecting anything profound or deep. If you're looking for anything "serious" or know nothing about the. Rosenbergs.
Get alerts about your favorite artists and theater companies