Members say: Great acting, Disappointing, Funny, Slow, Clever

About the show

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.

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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.

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See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews

The New York Times

"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


"Not even the sainted Linda Lavin can save the deeply unpleasant character she plays in 'Our Mother’s Brief Affair,' a lazy play by Richard Greenberg. Stubbornly lacking in dramatic tension, the uneventful narrative features a mean-spirited woman who may or may not be on her deathbed, recounting a closely held secret to her disagreeable grown children." 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

Time Out New York

"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

New York Magazine / Vulture

"The moral balance fails, making 'Our Mother’s Brief Affair' seem uncharacteristically cheap or desperate, a way of cribbing drama from an impeccable source — history — instead of growing it natively. Greenberg seems to sense this, or at least his characters do, because he and they spend the rest of the play scrambling to absorb the blow by making excuses where possible and, where not, trying to top it with a secondary secret." Full Review


"It's disappointing when a play that is intelligently written and generally well-acted just doesn't coalesce. It's especially disappointing when the dramatist is Richard Greenberg, a premier theatrical chronicler of the Jewish-American family. His latest, 'Our Mother's Brief Affair' will no doubt appeal to certain people, especially with the sublime Linda Lavin in the title role. But even a performer as watchable as Lavin can't elevate this sluggish play into a compelling evening of theater." Full Review

The Huffington Post

"Another geriatric comedy--of the genre popularly known as 'the Linda Lavin play'--pleasantly steaming along, courtesy of heavy lifting by Linda Lavin herself. Suddenly, a big mystery emerges; without said big mystery, there'd be little upon which to build the second act...If Mr. Greenberg was attempting to give us something with socio-politico-historical import, he has not convincingly done so. Seekers of Jewish mother comedy, though, should be more than content." Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

"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

The Guardian (UK)

"The playwright Richard Greenberg has a flair for middle-class aphorisms...If this were enough to sustain the two-hour’s traffic of our stage, then 'Our Mother’s Brief Affair' would be scintillating stuff. It is not. Unfocused, anemic and astonishingly trivial, this drama of family and memory has somehow found its way to Manhattan Theatre Club’s Broadway berth...It’s hard to imagine an affair torrid enough to shake up a play this smug." Full Review

Arts in LA

"You can hear the proverbial pin drop as Lavin carefully takes the audience into Anna’s mind...It’s a beautiful, heart-stopping moment, but it’s not enough to save an otherwise meandering, anemic work...Greenberg spends too much time telling rather than showing...MTC artistic director Lynne Meadow gives the play an efficient but passionless staging." Full Review

DC Theatre Scene

"The biggest surprise is how much the play feels like a first draft for a better play…or notes for several other plays...The play feels as if it was written too quickly, that it is a work in progress...Only about half of these jokes land — the others simply are neither funny nor even smart – and this is a symptom of the problem with the play as a whole...If the play is undernourished dramatically, it also feels overstuffed with (underdeveloped) ideas. At the same time, too much comes off as f... Full Review

Front Row Center

"Not only does Richard Greenberg wander the fields with this tale – the direction and staging are confounding. The staging of park bench, hospital room, hotel room and other locations are confusing...This is a story that lacks purpose and drive. We are never let in far enough to connect with these characters. People talk about events, and reveal little. The 'story' and it’s ultimate twist and revelation is intriguing, but we discover the truth too late." Full Review

The Huffington Post

"It's all delivered in such familiar wonder what if anything of interest could be on tap...In a show this diffuse, this uncertain as to what it wants to say, everything remains fuzzy, from the direction of Lyne Meadow to the lighting and costumes. The actors never exactly stumbled or dried up on their lines, but even seeing it after the show had opened, they felt tentative. When the story doesn't ring true, it can be awfully hard to remember your lines and even harder to bring th... Full Review

Broadway Blog

"Ultimately, Anna delivers a lengthy monologue, which allows Lavin her big moment as she explains the guilt that drove her into the affair, but it’s just as contrived as the affair itself. Only Lavin’s performance keeps the entire enterprise from disintegrating before our eyes. For those attending to see a star performance they’ll certainly get one...Her costars, sorry to say, are unremarkable,...further demonstrating why ‘Our Mother’s Brief Affair” is, for better or worse, a star vehicle." Full Review

The Hollywood Reporter

"It takes some doing to stifle the prickly humor of Linda Lavin, but 'Our Mother's Brief Affair' makes her character both an unreliable narrator and one who's astringent to the point of unpleasantness...While Meadow's actors are all quite accomplished, they struggle to find any heart in characters so unrelentingly 'written' that it sucks the life out of them, giving us no reason to care." Full Review

The Wall Street Journal

"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

AM New York

"An underwhelming dramatic comedy...The play has witty lines and a few surprises, but it’s also sluggish, messy and short on plot. Greenberg’s attempts to play with time and dramatic structure come off as labored. Meadow’s staging is generally flat." Full Review

The Clyde Fitch Report

"Richard Greenberg’s new spin on a dysfunctional family, 'Our Mother’s Brief Affair,' isn’t brief enough. It’s so far below the level of his other plays that the mind nearly boggles...I need to state that in order to specify how boring — not to say barely this side of reprehensible — 'Our Mother’s Brief Affair' is, I’m going to have to cough up a major spoiler in a few paragraphs. I don’t see any way around it. For that, I offer the apology that Greenberg should offer us." Full Review

Talkin' Broadway

"Curious and frequently flavorless confection by Richard Greenberg...What does the alternately leaden and breezy piece mean when they're combined within the ripples of memory? There's no easy way to tell, and without Linda Lavin at the helm, there wouldn't be an especially compelling reason to investigate." Full Review

Times Square Chronicles

"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

New York Daily News

"With signature style, wry wit and an irresistible glint in her eye, Lavin makes Anna Cantor a force to be reckoned with. Lavin can do that in her sleep. Even so, the play is a snooze...Greenberg writes sharp and smart dialogue. Lynne Meadow is an efficient director. The cast is fine, but can only do so much with a script that is undercooked and overwritten at the same time." Full Review

Front Mezz Junkies

"I only wish the story was either more compelling or better told in the play’s direction, use of space and stage, and in Greenberg’s writing. The story has all the ingredients of a captivating one, but it feels messy and flat...The actors do there damnedest to draw us in and almost succeed but the writing style seemed a bit too poetic...This is a play to watch a pro at work. Lavin is wonderful but deserves a story that is stronger, better written, and over all, more intricately constructed." Full Review


"Unfortunately, the playwright seems to have left it up to Lavin and director Lynne Meadow to move this play into my list of prime-Greenberg plays…Though Lavin is still at the top of her game there's so much she can do with what's been given her. The zingers are often not up to Greenberg's sharpest. And the big secret about the other party of that brief affair just doesn't add up to a really well developed, provocative plot development." Full Review

Bob's Theater Blog

"No one knows how to pander to a MTC audience better than Richard Greenberg. String together some witty one-liners, throw in a Jewish matron, add a few Yiddish words, mention Great Neck at least once and, voila, MTC awaits with open arms...And so we now have this strange lumpy play...Anna is so unsympathetic and her adult children so emotionally stunted that it is hard to develop much concern for them." Full Review

The Wrap

"Neither the petulant performances by Kate Arrington and Greg Keller nor the arch writing by Greenberg is compelling. The five-minute history lesson, however, mesmerizes because the bare facts continue to astound more than a half century later...Likewise, character traits are thrown out and dismissed...'Affair' is nearly a drama-less drama. Nearly every conflict presented is resolved by someone on stage telling us how it is resolved." Full Review

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews

Funny, Delightful, Confusing, Disappointing, Entertaining

See it if you ever worshiped @ the Linda Lavin altar. STILL magnificent. But the show is confusing, & the end's one of the worst let-downs in theater.

Don't see it if dementia/alzheimers theme will mess w/you. About family, w/some unknowns & surprises exposed. The abrupt ending destroyed the whole show.

Great acting, Confusing, Slow, Muddled, Meta

See it if you're a Linda Lavin fan -- she salvages a part written as a New Yawk Jewish mother stereotype.

Don't see it if you prefer well-written plays - this one is very muddled and unsatisfying, with a completely unnecessary meta moment.

Clever, Great acting, Intelligent, Great writing, Entertaining

See it if You want to see a unique and well acted family play.

Don't see it if You do not like drama

Great acting, Slow, Entertaining

See it if you don't mind slow moving shows

Don't see it if you're into hysterical comedies

Absorbing, Ambitious, Thought-provoking, Indulgent, Disappointing

See it if You like the lead and prefer dramas to musicals.

Don't see it if The subject matter is unappealing and you are looking to leave the theater with a big smile across your face.

Banal, Slow, Dated

See it if you'd like to see Linda Lavin

Don't see it if you've seen Linda Lavin in another and much better show

Disappointing, Excruciating, Slow, Fluffy

See it if You want to feel bad for actors who didn't read a script before they decided to take a part

Don't see it if If you want to see good acting or a good play. This is just awful all around. I can't imagine anyone would like this.

Confusing, Disappointing, Cliched, Overrated, Slow

See it if Slow and boring. Skip this one

Don't see it if Was confusing and didnt hold interest

Enchanting, Quirky, Slow

See it if yo enjoy pieces about reminiscing and family matters.

Don't see it if flashbacks are something you don't like interwoven in present day scenes.

Disappointing, Insipid, Overrated, Slow, Entertaining

See it if You like plays with a small cast

Don't see it if You don't like talky plays.

Disappointing, Overrated, Slow

See it if you're a Linda Lavin fan

Don't see it if you're not a Linda Lavin fan. No other reason to go

Funny, Absorbing, Clever, Great acting, Great staging

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!

Great acting, Confusing

See it if you feel like it's been a while since you've seen Linda Lavin being the best. She is the best.

Don't see it if you're under 50. Not to give too much away, but there's a plot point that I don't think younger people can relate to at all.

Funny, Relevant, Disappointing, Insipid, Slow

See it if you enjoy plays that revolve around a single person's life, and overall has a small cast.

Don't see it if you want to see profound emotional depth in a show with deep meaning.

Absorbing, Thought-provoking, Resonant

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.

Great acting, Romantic, Indulgent, Banal, Cliched

See it if You love Linda Lavin no matter how weak the material, or if you're an aging Upper East Sider.

Don't see it if You can't stand listening to rich white New Yorkers' problems.

Funny, Clever, Great acting, Masterful, Profound

See it if for Linda Lavin

Don't see it if some farfetched plot twists will take you out of the moment

Ambitious, Clever, Great acting, Entertaining

See it if Love a great Linda Lavin performance

Don't see it if Flawed writing is an issue for you

Great acting

See it if you love watching Linda Lavin live!

Don't see it if you aren't in the mood for a bedtime story to be read to you.

Clever, Delightful, Entertaining

See it if If you are a fan of Linda Lavin, formally a star of the T.V. sitcom (ALICE),then you would love this play.

Don't see it if If you are looking for the brief affair, is to take place on the stage. Or looking for an imagery of a affair.

Funny, Great acting, I liked this a lot more than i thought i would, Go to see linda lavin

See it if You're a Linda Lavin fan and in the mood for something different.

Don't see it if You can't stand ambiguity.

Banal, Disappointing, Cliched, Insipid, Slow

See it if You're a big Linda Lavin fan. She's terrific in the show.

Don't see it if You don't like plays that mix up drama with storytelling.

Banal, Confusing, Disappointing, Cliched, Dated

See it if You love seeing Linda Lavin play her wonderful Linda Lavin-ness.

Don't see it if inane plot twists bother you.

Disappointing, Slow, Dull, Funny moments, Failed to engage

See it if An unexpected twist in an otherwise tepid play; some funny one-liners and good acting by Linda Lavin; the rest of the cast was forgettable.

Don't see it if You want something lively or memorable.

Banal, Disappointing

See it if if you're a fan of Linda Lavin.

Don't see it if You're not in the above category.

Cast & Creatives (11)