Sorry, New York TIMES, I really liked this show. Yes, it had the usual elements of a Nicky Silver piece, a monster Jewish mother and her neurotic gay son who cannot maintain a relationship, but in THIS DAY FORWARD, Silver is interested in the causes of the neuroses. Act One is set in a hotel room in 1958. Martin (Michael Crane) and Irene (Holly Fain) have just gotten married and are settling in for their wedding night. Irene is avoiding Martin's advances while she trues to tell him the truth--that she doesn't love him and is in love and carrying on a passionate affair with Emil, an auto mechanic. Emil arrives on the scene along with a Polish-born hotel maid and her thieving bellhop son with whom she constantly fights.. What ensues may seem to be typical bedroom farce, but Silver is particularly interested in Irene's character. It is 1958 and nice Jewish girls like Irene are supposed to snag successful husbands like Martin. Irene is looking for emotional and sexual fulfillment. Act II takes place in 2004 in the apartment of Irene and Martin's son Noah (also Michael Crane), a playwright eying a more lucrative career in television. Noah has a sweet younger lover Leo (Andrew Burnap), whom he doesn't treat very well. Irene (June Gable), is now beginning to have spells of dementia. She lives with Noah's sister, Sheila, who no longer can deal with her alternating periods of dementia and cruelty. Neither Noah or Sheila have much feeling for their parents. Martin was an abusive father and Irene an indifferent mother and their children still suffer from the battle scars of being raised in that unhappy household. Only sweet Leo offers to take care of Irene, but Noah viciously rejects him. As always in Silver plays, the mother has some brilliant zingers and June Gable makes the most of them, yet she always stays rooted in a rich, sympathetic characterization.
THIS DAY FORWARD is not the collection of funny, cruel one-liners that have dominated Silver's recent plays. It is far more rooted in character. It is funny, but also more character driven. Irene, young and old, is a fascinating character, the centerpiece of a play filled with rich characters.
Mark Brokaw has paced the play perfectly and the ensemble couldn't be better. June Gable offers star turns as the Polish maid in Act I and the older Irene. Holly Fain's younger Irene is blithely unaware of her own selfishness and callousness. Michael Crane is a baffled Martin in Act I and in Act II a self-absorbed man who is prone to cruelty. Andrew Burnap is convincing both as the larcenous bellhop and the sweet, devoted lover in Act II.
I saw the last performance of THIS DAY FORWARD. The play deserves a future in regional theatre and beyond. It is one of Silver's best.