Closed 1h 35m
The Mother of Invention
Midtown W
70

The Mother of Invention NYC Reviews and Tickets

70%
(76 Reviews)
Positive
65%
Mixed
30%
Negative
5%
Members say
Great acting, Entertaining, Funny, Thought-provoking, Absorbing

About the Show

Abingdon Theatre Company presents the world premiere of James Lecesne's play, an unflinching and comedic look at how one family deals with the effects of Alzheimer’s.

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Member Reviews (76)

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74
Funny, Alzheimers suffused, Even includes wacky neighbor, Welcome gratuitous nudity, Set made of packing boxes

See it if experience a gifted cast making the most of tragi/comic material in the MARVINs ROOM vein

Don't see it if Alzheimers, family conflict, cardboard boxes, male nudity, too many lamps, Christmas lights, memory journals, guns, or color alerts irk you

75
Entertaining, Funny, Great acting, Relevant, Thought-provoking

See it if you enjoy a family drama with some unique complications and peppered with humor.

Don't see it if you don't like plays about families.

Critic Reviews (14)

February 9th, 2017

"The show has potential as a faulty-memory play where the protagonists attempt to reshape their own stories...But this Abingdon Theater Company production, directed by Tony Speciale, is no Greek tragedy. Rather, it awkwardly flits between drama and comedy, and the characters are so cursorily written that the actors are left flailing — the experienced Ms. Tomei can’t dig out much in Dottie besides caustic interjections."
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February 10th, 2017

"A wildly uncertain mix of sex comedy, family drama, and oddball spiritual contemplation, which never gels into anything coherent... Nevertheless, 'The Mother of Invention' goes down easy, thanks to Tony Speciale's smooth direction, and the fine cast...By the time 'The Mother of Invention' reaches its not really satisfactory ending, one has long since realized that it is a collection of plot points in search of a play. It's as muddled as Dottie's mind, on one of her bad days."
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February 10th, 2017

"Containing uneven performances, straightforward direction and clogged with symbolism, it’s a long 95 minutes...There are one-liners galore, wacky situations and a decidedly campy sensibility. It’s a bunch of superficial antics that never really meaningfully connect...Speciale’s physical staging of the action is fine, but doesn’t achieve the heightened zaniness this self-consciously absurd material, striving for profundity, aims for. The casting for these flimsy characters is problematic."
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February 11th, 2017

“Ambitious—if sometimes uneven…A compelling, sprawling comedy that looks at family secrets with an unflinching gaze. Presenting a rare, well-rounded portrait of Alzheimer’s, the show also touches on themes of morality, sustainability, climate change, and the art of dying. It is a smart if imperfect script…At times quite funny and unexpected, the script also occasionally veers into the esoteric, and keeps track of some of the many juggled narratives better than others.”
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February 14th, 2017

"'The Mother of Invention' is hampered by both its attempt to do too many things in a limited space and by none of those things being fresh and/or revelatory. Lecesne, an Oscar winner and celebrated playwright, misses the mark here, being too expository and unfocused. But Director Tony Speciale has brought on a top-flight cast to tackle the emotional fare, and succeeds in rescuing the material, shaping it into a watchable, if seemingly long play."
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February 10th, 2017

"With director Tony Speciale moving things along at a fast clip, there is never a dull moment. But, while there is humor, there is disappointingly little pathos to be found. In a play about moving out and moving on, few of the characters are very moving at all...More tell than show, Dottie talks often about forgetting, but we rarely see her forget. Indeed, she is so specific and at ease that the moral seems to be that Alzheimer’s ain’t all that bad for the afflicted."
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February 21st, 2017

"All rough material for sure, but it’s no matter, as the top-notch cast is so captivating, the moment the lights come up, you’ll forget you’re watching a down-and-out family gradually spiral out of control...Tomei, in a league of her own, offers a powerful performance that truly illuminates a mother’s internal — and external — struggle to survive...Davis and Reed both have you hooked for the entire span of their emotional journey."
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February 9th, 2017

"Dottie may be suffering from severe memory issues...but she seems perfectly at ease chatting about her condition and her children's dilemma. The device is cute for a while but...her being here in spirit, so to speak, quickly becomes a matter of diminishing returns...Well-cast, nicely acted, efficiently designed...and smoothly directed by Tony Speciale. But, given its lack of originality and too frequent triteness, what it lacks most clearly is the magic of invention."
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February 10th, 2017

"Dottie has a running commentary with the audience. It is humorous, sarcastic, biting and insightful. James Lecesne’s writing is funny and touching, and though 'The Mother of Invention' is not as good as 'The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey,' this play has merit and a lot to think about...In the end the question of what is the quality of life and who gets to make that last decision for us is at stake. Is loving someone helping them let go with dignity?"
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B
February 10th, 2017

"Alas, the new play is not ready for prime time. It’s a grab bag of assorted plot lines...Apparently the playwright thought that if he threw enough darts at the board, some of them would stick...The walls of Jo Winiarski’s set are made of packing cartons, which the characters gradually remove as the play moves along, a process that was not fast enough for me."
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February 13th, 2017

"The Abingdon Theatre Company production is filled with intrigue, explored in the soapiest of ways...The capable ensemble was able to find structure within the oft outrageous scenarios...James Lecesne's story is easily predictable. Despite that, it's entertaining. 'The Mother of Invention' is compact yet bursting with story frills. And for some, it's a bit too much."
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February 26th, 2017

“Lecesne is obviously an activist and artist to reckon with. However, his talents seem to wander seriously off-track with his play, ‘The Mother of Invention’…It’s a family comedy with serious intent, but it touches on so many subjects in such scattered fashion, it makes it difficult to get involved with what’s going on…Director Speciale has lavished a fairly solid production on the play’s meanderings, although it may try too hard to add further meaning or symbolism to the proceedings.”
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February 10th, 2017

"An exquisitely layered and deeply engrossing play. It’s a powerful look at how we construct the narrative of our lives and how skeletons will always find a way to clatter out of the family secret cupboard. The strong text presents the opportunity for the formidable cast to create captivating characters...I loved every minute of it…Tony Speciale has directed a tight, perfectly paced snapshot of the frayed fabric of nuclear families unraveling."
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O
February 10th, 2017

"A rambling drama/comedy loosely directed by Tony Speciale...Watching this production, where the acting ranges from barely audible to mediocre to excellent, we are reminded of past plays and actors in situations that have been better fleshed out...If you are put off by nudity stay home. If you are put off by writing that doesn’t sparkle stay home as well...The perkiest moments are delivered by Frankie (Dan Domingues)–keep an eye out for this one."
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