Saturday, February 10, 2018

Amy and the Orphans

Last night, I saw Lindsey Ferrentino's new play Amy and the Orphans at the Roundabout Theatre Company.

Jamie Brewer plays the titular Amy, but if you see the show with her understudy, Eddie Barbanell, the play will have the title Andy and the Orphans. There's very little in the play that is gender-specific about the central character, so why not?

In addition to showcasing the talented Brewer, the play also benefits from strong performances by Debra Monk as Maggie and Mark Blum as Jacob, the orphans of the title. Though they are now in their fifties or sixties, their parents have recently died, leaving them--technically--orphans. They now must pick up their younger sister Amy (or younger brother Andy) for the funeral.

The challenge is their sibling has Down syndrome, and in spite of their alleged focus on family, they really don't know much about her or how to relate to her. As they take a road trip down the Long Island Expressway (as Amy quips, the world's largest parking lot) they come to also question their parents' motives in institutionalizing Amy rather than raising her with the rest of the family.

We see the parents in flashback as a young couple with a shaky marriage, trying to figure out what to do with a child who might need more than they're prepared to give. As much as Maggie and Jacob blame their parents, though, the play is remarkably sympathetic towards them, showing that the world is often more complicated than just good guys and bad guys.

The play is skillfully directed by Roundabout's associate artistic director, Scott Ellis. If you want to see the show, check out the company's website:

Roundabout Theatre Company