Please Go Gentle Into That Good Night had a brief Off-Broadway spin at The American Theater of Actors from October 25-29.
Three sisters, all named Elizabeth – to be clear, that’s Izzy, Liza and Beth – are trying to honor their father’s dying wish as he lays in a coma. The problem is, he told each one of them something different. Cue the farce.
Talented playwright Oona O’Leary writes in the true style of Absurdist Theater, where you know what you’re watching couldn’t possibly be truly happening, but it might just possibly be truly happening. O’Leary’s natural language took us wherever she wanted us to go with ease and laughter. There was never a dull moment or a lull, and every scene on the stage had a purpose and moved the story along with great timing. It's a flawlessly written play.
Izzy, brought to effervescent and bubbly life by Victoria Blade, is a spiritual and gentle soul; she lets her emotions rule her and guide her oversensitive personality. Liza, on the other hand, played beautifully by Ramona Floyd, is the somewhat trodden upon work-horse of the sisters, the practical one who gets things done. Then there’s Beth, portrayed superbly by Laura Lapidus. She’s a no-frills gal, straight to the point and no time for silly flowery emotions. The sibling relationship history between the sisters is absolutely evident from the get go and is proof of what the right culmination of excellent script, fabulous actors, and skilled direction can bring to live theater.
It was easy to get carried away in the story and the situations presented. Every character had their issues and personal baggage; even the nursing home manager Nancy, played by Nicolette Lynch, produced an out-of-left-field hilarious twist.
Physical comedy played out perfectly with a professional ease, a testament to the talents of director Alan Cosby. Best on-stage-near-death-live-to-coma performance must go to Roger Hendricks Simon as the father, Frank, whose marvelous facial expressions held in a catatonic state nearly brought down the house and could have only been delivered by a level of personal brilliance held by this veteran of stage and screen.
Alex Kirshy as Firearms Dave was likable and relatable, you know, if you go for the type who gives their guns old-lady names that is. Jo Vetter as Patrice, the mild mannered yet overly paranoid version of Dr Kevorkian gives a truly wonderful and perfect performance.
This play is overwhelmingly deserving of a larger stage and a longer run so a bigger portion of New York can join in the fun.