By Tony Glazer. Directed by John Gould Rubin. McGinn-Cazale Theatre. (CLOSED)
Responses range widely on Tony Glazer's lurid dysfunctional-family drama, with the divide centering on whether its twists and turns are thrilling or wearying, convincing or ridiculous; in the middle are a few critics who seem to enjoy themselves despite their objections. Most admire Chris Barreca's striking set, but they're as divided on the cast and the direction as they are on the play itself.
Talk Entertainment A
(Oscar E Moore) The unfinished business is a delight to see unfold. Playwright Tony Glazer has written a clever, taut two act modern day Greek tragedy with a bit of Agatha Christie thrown in for good measure. In The Daylight is full of shadows and surprises...Under the bold direction of John Gould Rubin the actors flourish. They are on the edge of satire and melodrama but never fall into the abyss. They are all perfectly cast. I don’t want to spoil anything for you by giving away anything else. In The Daylight is a rare find. Exciting, suspenseful and grotesquely funny.
Show Business B+
(Bryan Clark) Sometimes goofy, definitely off-kilter and thoroughly amusing...The dialogue is mostly a cascade of one-liners, occasionally broken up by expositional speeches. Yet the talented cast makes it work. Concetta Tomei has a pitch-perfect tone as the play’s matriarch; Sharon Maguire is remarkably successful in the poorly drawn role of the sister; Ashley Austin Morris steals the show as the surprise visitor. Only Joseph Urla is miscast as the prodigal brother, giving a twitchy performance that belongs in a different production. Christopher Barreca’s monochrome foyer is the visual main attraction.
The New York Times C+
(Neil Genzlinger) The actors race through the first act of Tony Glazer’s “In the Daylight” as if they had someplace else to be, not even trying to establish rhythm or rapport and giving Mr. Glazer’s barbs and witticisms no chance to land. Maybe it’s because the entertaining parts of this dysfunctional-family story all lie in the second act, and they’re eager to get the audience there before it loses interest...When the secrets finally do drop in Act II, they’re pretty tasty. So is Ashley Austin Morris, who plays a fan of Martin’s who met him on the plane ride home.
(Adam R. Perlman) Big themes and his milieu of family reunion, serious boozing, and dark secrets percolating are rendered ridiculous by a left turn into tawdry potboiler territory...Still, it's possible for a while to overlook the large plot holes and the unfocused direction from John Gould Rubin. A lot can be forgiven on account of sharp dialogue...The cast—which also includes Concetta Tomei as Marty's own Mommie Dearest, Sharon Maguire as his hard-bitten sister, and Jay Patterson as dad's skulking specter—handles the material well enough...Genre mixing can be tremendously effective, but there has to be a reason for it. Self-sabotage isn't good enough.
Talkin' Broadway D+
(Matthew Murray) There’s no way this could even be considered a passable play, but Glazer and his director, John Gould Rubin, ensure you’re having some kind of a good time even as you’re having a bad one...Glazer is obviously going the route Tracy Letts took in August: Osage County of injecting every imaginable sleazy horror he can into his dysfunctional family, but he does it with considerably less style, grace, and honesty. By the time you understand everything about how and why these people behave as they do, you’ve long since stopped caring.
Lighting & Sound America D+
(David Barbour) Glazer is not an untalented writer--his last piece, Stain, about an equally troubled family, certainly had its moments--but here his carving knife is thoroughly dull, and the constant drumbeat of mean-spirited, faux-sophisticated remarks quickly wears one down. The characters are the thinnest of cardboard--the alcoholic writer, the castrating mother--and everyone speaks in the same unpleasant, unfunny voice. The actors, under the direction of John Gould Rubin, attack their lines with vigor, to little effect. (There's an appallingly high level of screaming.)...The rest of the production is striking, if also occasionally annoying.
Talk Entertainment A 13; Show Business B+ 11; The New York Times C+ 8; Backstage C- 6; Talkin' Broadway D+ 5; Lighting & Sound America D+ 5; 48/5=9.6 (B)