The final show of Manhattan Theatre Club's 2014-15 season, Melissa Ross' new play starring Alicia Silverstone is about the fun and dysfunction of that thing we call family. More…
The three Stockton sisters are witty, brilliant, beautiful – and a total mess, thanks to the legacy of their complicated novelist father. In Melissa Ross’ new play, these women gather at their family home on Cape Cod for a summer weekend. Their reunion ignites passions, humor, and wildly unanticipated upheavals.
"Through superb naturalistic dialogue and intensely focused performances that the cast makes look easy, every one of these characters is fully fleshed out... It’s a fully four-dimensional depiction of the lives of people who seem as real as the people you really know. At a moment when lots of theater companies are experimenting with 'immersive' productions, a solid traditional one like this meaty comedy, with all the creative pieces fitting together just right, is the true immersive art." Full Review
"Ross writes about a dysfunctional family—a familiar topic to anyone who has ever seen a play—but she makes it fresh...The dialogue, which involves a lot of hilarious teasing, rings true. Ross writes how people actually talk, with characters speaking over each other. This is indicated in the script and director Lynne Meadow navigates it well, so it's not difficult to understand what is being said." Full Review
"There are a bunch of plot points that keep things moving forward but I most enjoyed the quieter moments as characters prepared food or washed dishes, alternately building bonds and then breaking them with each meal. It’s a roller coaster ride and the sisters are perhaps more shrill than one would like, but each one is fleshed out beautifully and a final breakthrough late in the show is especially poignant. This show closed last weekend but I hope the play finds its way to a theater near you." Full Review
"One might say that 'Of Good Stock' was just another family-gets-together, family-fights, family-makes up, type of play and you are right. But, mix that formula with 6 incredibly talented, non-stop performances and set it on a stage so beautifully designed that you just might want to move in, and you have a play that feeds to your emotions, your laughter and the desire to just join in with coffee and bacon on the beach in Cape Cod." Full Review
"With little plot to speak of in Ross' slice-of-life play, the story turns on the relationships that fluctuate within it. As such, director Lynne Meadow makes a science of each, building a world that feels effortlessly realistic while also artistically cohesive...Ross does not reinvent the wheel with her portrayal of sisterly camaraderie, but as the women share a profanity-laden catharsis over a bottle of scotch, you have to feel glad that this particular wheel was in stock." Full Review
"Playwright Ross’ quips give 'Of Good Stock' the engaging feel of a good sitcom, though the jokes are particularly suited to an NYC audience... It is only during the sisters’ climactic airing-of-the-grievances stretch where the play begins to feel longer than its breezy two hours. (Silverstone’s eventual meltdown may put a lump in your throat as it crescendos, but the scene drags on far too long.) Still, the skilled performers elevate a potentially 'Stock' setup to a relatable and thoroughly ... Full Review
"A rather formulaic play that marches down the well-worn dramatic path of family dysfunction. It's also, though, appealingly generous, and sometimes quite funny...The play can careen without preparation from serious to farcical...They can't make 'Of Good Stock' a great play, but they do succeed in giving audiences an involving one, which might also stir some thoughts about the maintenance work needed to keep relationships going." Full Review
"The ensemble fearlessly portray characters who are not very likable and with whom we might have difficulty empathizing with, but it’s testament to their commitment that they each deliver truly memorable performances...There is a bittersweet quality to 'Of Good Stock' that lingers with you after the show is over. Ross doesn’t seem to have set out to deliver a cautionary tale, and yet the play contains warnings that sometimes come off as reflections of ourselves." Full Review
"The funny, poignant, and slice of life production...The production itself is quite good and for too many probably cuts quite close to the bone...I'm not sure if we are supposed to like any of these people or just see some reflection of ourselves in any one of them but the story unfolded mostly as expected and maybe took about 15 minutes too long." Full Review
"A finely acted production smartly staged...Act I is a delight, providing the necessary exposition for appreciating the characters; Act II, not so much, because the stakes never rise to a higher level. There are no big gotcha moments, just more character-exposing small talk. I admit to welling up at several moments and to laughing loudly now and then, but in general, once I knew who was who and what they felt about each other, there wasn’t much else to take home from this weekend in the count... Full Review
"Ross knows how to craft believable, interesting characters, funny lines, heartbreaking dialogue, dramatic plot points, as well as men who are more than appendages to her women. Yet, despite all of its plusses, the play ultimately feels a tad insubstantial...The bigger issue here, though, is Ross never makes the stakes high enough. Sure, this 'Stock' is tasty, but it really could use a bit more meat in it." Full Review
"An unsteady combination of undercooked and overdramatic...Ross does not address too many fresh issues in painting portraits of the Stockton trio, even within the boundaries she herself sets...Still, even the familiar can impress if it's presented well, which is thankfully the case here." Full Review
"'Of Good Stock,' actually feels like a better-than-average chick flick — well acted, smoothly paced, occasionally touching and, for those who indulge in such forms of reassurance, as comforting as a quart of mint chocolate chip ice cream, eaten straight from the container...Some of the dialogue here could slide easily into pretty much any dysfunctional family sitcom of the last decade or so...Otherwise, you laugh, you cry, you yawn. There’s nothing taxing or revelatory about 'Of Good Stock'.” Full Review
"Has a distressing air of familiarity in its depiction of a trio of squabbling siblings whose respective emotional issues are endlessly and loudly expressed. It may be cathartic for the characters, but for the audience, not so much...The evening is not always as painful as it sounds. Ross displays a flair for writing sharply funny dialogue, and the performances are generally fine, although Silverstone overdoes her character's narcissistic traits." Full Review
"If there is little plot to speak of besides sitcom-style scenes of confrontation, bonding and heavy drinking, the play does provide full portraits of the characters...The production features spirited performances all around, a detailed revolving set and quite a few cute and touching moments, but it doesn't quite overcome the play's light-as-a-feather flimsiness and predictability." Full Review
"You’ve seen this sort of play before, and Ross’s version presents few surprises. It is competently written, however, and delivers a decent number of laughs, with Alicia Silverstone being especially amusing as the teary Amy. Solid acting lends these family matters a fine sense of spontaneity, which makes for painless viewing. Lynne Meadow, the director, has cultivated the agreeable performances and gives the play a deluxe physical production." Full Review
"The production has some touching moments about family, love, and marriage, but it skates along on the surface and the emotional payoffs come far too late...The men feel a bit like the audience’s proxy (and their observational roles are made much more substantial by the great cast)...Once the sisters stop fighting with each other and start fighting for each other, the play finds some genuine emotion but it was perhaps too long a road to that moment." Full Review
"But if Ross initially seems to have mastered the three-sister set-up, the second act founders on a trinity of theme, not character. Each sister comes to represent something primal: birth, marriage, death. Ross’s handling of these issues devolves into melodrama. Even at its most cliché-ridden, however, 'Of Good Stock' holds the attention." Full Review
"Not much happens in 'Of Good Stock,' other than the standard snipes and tear wipes of any family get-together. There are any number of places where the play could have gone, but doesn’t — we learn, for example, that Jess as the executor to her father’s literary estate refuses to allow any of his novels to be turned into movies. Why? We’re not told and nothing much is made of this. But if 'Of Good Stock' doesn’t quite go anywhere, it does take us someplace." Full Review
"Chekhov meets Beth Henley in 'Of Good Stock', Melissa Ross’ melodramedy...With its tiresome jokes, Ross’ play takes way too much digging to unearth an underlying richness...The best thing about 'Of Good Stock' is the ending, which, it turns out, is no ending at all. It seems to end in mid-sentence, or mid-action, which I took to be the attitude of a realist-optimist. A sweet touch." Full Review
"In 'Of Good Stock', directed by Lynne Meadow for MTC, rising writer Melissa Ross mixes in some laughs and insight, but overdoes it on the tears, clichés and whining...The play looks great; you may wish you could live in Santo Loquasto’s fancy rotating beachside home set. But although it’s presented in a designer package, 'Of Good Stock' is off-the-rack family dysfunction." Full Review
"An overwritten-yet-undercooked show where emotions are eclipsed by a ridiculously intricate rotating set...Half the dialogue feels as if it’d been cooked up by a 60-year-old trying hard to sound hip rather than by an actual young woman three years out of Juilliard...Sadly, these misfires bury the play’s genuine kernels of gravitas...The actors are the production’s saving grace." Full Review
"Less a new play than a potpourri of commonly occurring tropes and types...If 'Of Good Stock' lacks originality, there are still things to recommend it – the naturalistic dialogue, the chewy roles for actors. But there’s also much that seems clumsy, particularly in the repetitive structure and the abrupt ending. Lynne Meadow’s overheated direction, which treats each small squabble like a catastrophe, doesn’t help...As it stands, 'Of Good Stock' yields a fairly low rate of return." Full Review
"Hell is spending a weekend with the three irritating Stockton sisters who strut and fret in Melissa Ross’s busy but fruitless family drama, 'Of Good Stock.' Director Lynne Meadow’s production is smartly cast and easy on the eye. But everyone in this unpleasant family of narcissists is consumed with herself, and their histrionic posturing is exhausting." Full Review
"Tinny and hollow comedy...This work feels undercooked and tolls with phony baloney...There’s only so much director Lynne Meadow can do when the script falters. She keeps the pacing up and wraps the show in handsome style. That’s become a recurring Manhattan Theatre Club hallmark — productions that look better than they play." Full Review
See it if Youb are interested in family dramas. I liked Alicia's role of a spoiled female the least. Stereoytyped character.
Don't see it if You like smaller theaters with nice staging and personal shows
See it if A sad and touching story. Its family issues should resonate with many.
Don't see it if You're not particularly interested in the joys and sorrows of upper-middle-class New York families.
See it if you want to gawk at Silverstone. The script was truly awful. Nothing funny, insightful, or believable to be found. No strong acting, either
Don't see it if idiotic behavior drives you crazy. This play is chock-full of idiotic behavior. The word "Good" does not deserve to be in the title.