It’s a testament to the success of Delaware Theatre Company’s reinvention that it’s no longer surprising to see big Broadway names and familiar television and film actors on its stage. DTC balances intimate local theater with the world-class quality and talent. In other words, if you still haven’t had a (recent) DTC experience, you’re missing out.
ANY GIVEN MONDAY reunites playwright Bruce Graham and Director (and DTC’s Executive Director) Bud Martin, who last worked together for last season’s THE OUTGOING TIDE. Both shows deal with families in crisis, morality, and death, and both use humor to tell their stories. But if the suicide-themed THE OUTGOING TIDE plays with tragic dark humor, ANY GIVEN MONDAY’s humor is pitch black.
Everything seems normal enough at first, if more than a bit dysfunctional. Dirk Durossette’s set design, which transports the audience to a comfortable suburban Philadelphia home, is one of the best I’ve seen on the DTC stage — and I’ve seen a lot of amazing DTC sets. The four characters are introduced in four different ways: Daughter Sarah (Lucy DeVito of “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”) introduces herself, a Philosophy undergrad whose family is falling apart; father Lenny (Kenny Morris of Broadway’s HAIRSPRAY and LES MISERABLES), a school teacher who, as introduced by Sarah, is couch-bound since his wife walked out; mother Risa (Leslie Hendrix of “Law & Order: SVU”), who the audience meets in a vignette where she chooses infidelity; and Lenny’s childhood friend, Mickey (Michael Mastro of “Nurse Jackie”), an outspoken transit worker who enters the scene after the family is introduced.
Set entirely in Lenny’s den (with a few asides), ANY GIVEN MONDAY is a twisted morality play that asks disturbing questions as a shocking act that affects the family comes to light, while Monday Night Football plays in the background. Does casual hatred of the Dallas Cowboys make it easier to contemplate hateful acts toward other people? Or, as Sarah suggests, is football a necessary surrogate for our hatred? Mastro’s Mickey, who seems to be the story’s comic relief, doesn’t have a politically correct bone in his body, and he’s undoubtedly a sociopath. He’s also the most morally consistent, and, through Graham’s writing and Mastro’s performance, somehow relabale. That’s not to say he’s moral. By the end of the play you may be questioning if anyone, onstage or in real life, is moral.
And yet, it’s a very funny play, if not one for the easily offended. Mastro and Hendrix are brilliant comic actors, both playing off of Morris and DeVito beautifully. Every character has its moments, preventing anyone from truly stealing the show. There is drama, too, and a whole lot of conflict, and you never know what’s going to happen next. This is a play you’ll be thinking about long after you leave the theater, the performances embedded under your skin.
ANY GIVEN MONDAY
By Bruce Graham
Directed by Bud Martin
September 4 – 22, 2013
Delaware Theatre Company
200 Water Street
Wilmington, DE 19801