‘Munich Medea: Happy Family’ Review: A Friendship Crushed by the Past

‘Munich Medea: Happy Family’ Review: A Friendship Crushed by the Past

“Munich Medea: Happy Family” carries the flawed set off warning. Rather than cautioning us that Corinne Jaber’s debut play “addresses, however doesn’t depict, sexual assault,” it ought to warn us that its tropes will probably be ploddingly predictable to simply about anybody who has seen the #MeToo motion play out lately.

On reverse sides of a sparsely furnished split-level stage, two ladies, Caroline and Alice, inform us concerning the dissolution of their childhood friendship after they have been sexually abused by the identical man. While the script appears to be pitched someplace between a reminiscence play and an exorcism, what unfolds onstage, underneath the director Lee Sunday Evans’s gentle contact, is as dry and sober as a deposition — with its mentions of consent (uttered 10 instances within the play’s 75 minutes), forensic descriptions of rape and clockwork-like moments of catharsis. For a play named after a legendarily vengeful Greek mom, “Munich Medea” (a co-production of PlayCo and WP Theater) is a strikingly domesticated and becalmed manufacturing.

This is to not say that moms come off fully properly on this play. At one level, Caroline (a granite-faced Crystal Finn) — wanting again on the abuse that her father (a louche Kurt Rhoads) inflicted on her finest good friend, Alice (Heather Raffo) — displays that “none of this could’ve occurred” with out her mom’s consent, “which she gave, at all times, willingly and silently.” Her mom by no means materializes within the play. That the mom is successfully silenced might be a manner for her daughter to actual poetic revenge, by silencing the one who wove a conspiracy of silence round her husband’s crimes. But the play just isn’t wily sufficient to ambush the confederate in her personal entice.

Alice’s personal mom, a refugee from East Germany, can be conspicuously absent. A extra sympathetic character, she’s described as a “virtuous, well-behaved Protestant” who as soon as confronted Caroline’s father, asking him to depart her daughter alone, to no avail. As performed by Rhoads, the daddy (he’s given no correct identify) is a silver-tongued theater actor who spends a lot of the play in his dressing room, elevated about 10 ft above the ground. Lines from Friedrich Schiller rain down on us from his lair, and even in outdated age, he has no bother quoting Georg Büchner and Rainer Maria Rilke from reminiscence. As with Vladimir Nabokov’s notorious pedophile, Humbert Humbert, the daddy in “Munich Medea” appears to imagine that aesthetic ingenuity greater than makes up for moral lapses.

Even the fanciest rhetorician, nonetheless, would have bother disguising the truth that the themes of incest and sexual abuse of minors have been explored in more energizing methods in different performs, like Paula Vogel’s “How I Learned to Drive” and John Patrick Shanley’s “Doubt: A Parable.” Jaber’s play treads the identical floor however fails to show over new stones of perception.

Munich Medea: Happy Family
Through Feb. 25 at WP Theater, Manhattan; Running time: 1 hour quarter-hour.

This evaluation is supported by Critical Minded, an initiative to put money into the work of cultural critics from traditionally underrepresented backgrounds.



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