Set in the 1980s, the hilarious comedy of errors Daddy Issues, now playing at the Davenport Theatre, tells the story of family dysfunction, loyal friendship, denial, and placating to the extreme. Donald Moscowitz (Stephen Millett standing in for Yuval David on the night I saw the show), a young gay man living in New York City whose career choice of being an actor is not at all supported by his family, finds himself pushed into a corner when both his well-intentioned father Sid Moscowitz (Tony Rossi) and mother Marion Moscowitz (Kate Katcher) express their disappointment at Donald not having produced a grandchild. Donald finds himself blurting out a lie that he does indeed have a ten-year-old son, the product of a brief heterosexual dating encounter from his college days with Mary Ellen McGuire (Megan MacPhee).
A brilliantly structured myriad of sticky situations ensues with the help of Donald’s two best friends, casting assistant Henrietta (Elizabeth Klein) and drag queen Levi Krauss (Sam Given), who do everything in their limited power to support Donald's lie by accosting and subsequently employing the boy who lives downstairs to play the part. Enter little Johnny Walker (Austin Levine) - named after his alcoholic mother’s favorite drink - an even-tempered, forthright little kid despite his unstable home life.
David Goldyn skillfully directs and handles the moments of serious, real-life drama with care and tact, all the while never losing pace and keeping the audience with him to travel comfortably to the punch line. Marshall Goldberg’s script provides fully realized characters against the all-too-relatable backdrop of doing anything to make those you love happy. There are excellent running gags and unexpected twists and turns to keep the audience on their toes. Goldberg cleverly ties up any loose threads and gives us a satisfying end to the mayhem that would otherwise be a therapist’s delight.
There is an excellent balance of characters and personalities that makes this production fit together like a jigsaw puzzle. I was especially taken with the touching moments between the alleged grandparents and their supposed grandchild; Grandma Moscowitz (Deb Armelino) was particularly delightful. The development and evolution of both established and new relationships unfolds eloquently before us as the story unfolds, with natural and engaging performances by the entire cast; there is a warmth and genuineness to this family circle, intertwined with their comical craziness. Goldyn has filled this production with highly experienced and skilled actors to result in a formidable and polished production.