By Marshall Goldberg; Directed by David Goldyn
Off Broadway, Play
Runs through 11.6.16
Theatre at St. Clement's, 423 West 46th Street
by Lexi Orphanos on 10.6.16
Shua Potter and Alex Ammerman in Daddy Issues. Photo by Stephen M. Cyr.
BOTTOM LINE: Daddy Issues seamlessly marries tumult to tenderness with its bold cast of comics.
At the start of this whirlwind comedy, struggling actor Donald Moscowitz (Matt Koplik) is preparing for a callback when his father Sid (the effortlessly witty Tony Rossi) barges in with an odd request. In a brilliantly ignorant conversation, Sid relates how Irving Plotnick’s son just turned straight and settled down, so it’s time Donald does the same. However, before Donald can correct his father on just how insulting this all is, Sid lays down an offer too good to refuse: Grandma Moscowitz will double his inheritance if he has a baby. As only a striving artist can understand, the dollar signs cloud Donald’s judgment, and suddenly he's told his father that he does have a son, "Ryan," with Mary Ellen McGuire, his ex-girlfriend from his college musical theatre club.
Naturally, the lie snowballs as mother Marion (the sharply comedic Kate Katcher) arrives at the apartment with onesies in tow. Grandma (Deb Armelino) soon follows and exclaims that she can “finally die” once she’s met her great grandson. Donald is clearly in the throes of his own lie, but gets caught up as his family finally says all he’s ever wanted to hear: “we love you, and we’re proud of you.” With the help of his fabulous best friends Levi (Shua Potter) and Henrietta (Elizabeth Klein), Donald hires the neighbor’s 10-year-old son Johnny Walker (Alex Ammerman) to play Ryan, and Levi will slip into one of his numerous drag ensembles to portray mother Mary Ellen. What could possibly go wrong?
What makes Daddy Issues so captivating is the cast’s agility within the comedic script. The writing itself is a pure joke machine, from the Moscowitz family trying to check if Ryan is circumcised, to Levi re-entering in a pink wig and gold ensemble as his new persona “Ophelia Crotch.” Daddy Issues is a fine example of a comedy where the script could easily take the lead, but this nimble cast—under excellent direction by David Goldyn—knows exactly how to make the audience squirm with anxiety and then let the tension snap in moments of sheer comic genius.
Beyond humor, Marshall Goldberg’s play taps into the core of what it means to be a father, mother, and son. Although Johnny Walker comports himself as a slick 10-year old businessman, he and Donald make sweet connections, with Donald blushing every time he’s called “dad,” and Johnny genuinely relishing connection with a stable adult, given his stress with his alcoholic mother. And as events unfold, Donald learns just who his true family is. Especially in a day and age when the nuclear family is fading from the norm, Daddy Issues provides a strong reminder that if you “have a little faith,” the love you give can always come full-circle.
(Daddy Issues plays at the Theatre at St. Clement’s, 423 West 46th Street, through November 6, 2016. The running time is 90 minutes with no intermission. Performances are Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 8, and Sundays at 3. Tickets start at $69 and are available at daddyissuestheplay.com or by calling 866-811-4111.)
Daddy Issues is by Marshall Goldberg. Directed by David Goldyn. Scenic design by Kevin Klakouski. Costume design by Antonio Consuegra. Lighting design by Mitchell Ost. Press Representative Ron Lasko (Spin Cycle). Production stage management by Jennifer-Elizabeth Cooper. Assistant stage management by Stephen Millett. General management by 22Q Entertainment. Casting director Sara Koch. Marketing by Stephen Cyr. Associate produced by Barbara Snyder. Produced by David Goldyn.
The cast is Alex Ammerman, Deb Armelino, Allyson Haley, Kate Katcher, Elizabeth Klein, Matt Koplik, Shua Potter, and Tony Rossi.