In Ari Roth’s Andy and the Shadows, obsessive filmmaker Andy Glickstein doggedly searches for the momentous, globe-spanning history buried beneath his quiet, suburban life. As the complex, time-shifting drama unfolds, it becomes clear that nothing – including family, wedding plans, and even the truth – will stand in Glickstein’s way.
In the opening scene, protagonist Andy, imbued with nervous energy by the engrossing Alexander Strain, narrates his family’s squabbles over dinner.
Roth’s canny writing reveals much about each character in this first exchange. Colleen Delany adds an edgy energy as rebellious older sister Amy who longs to write her own story, while Kimberly Gilbert adds an earnest “Me too!” attitude as younger sister Tammy. Likeable Stephen Patrick Martin brings quiet strength to patriarch Nate. Jennifer Mendenhall wields her magnetic presence as mother Raya, the no-nonsense sparkplug of the Glickstein clan.
The scene then pivots to a record store far across town, then back to the dinner table, before shifting to Andy’s childhood bedroom, where his fiancee Sarah is speaking happily about wedding plans. Lucianna Stecconi’s deconstructed, angular house design allows the audience’s attention to bounce freely around the stage as we drift through Andy’s aimless story. The skewed lines of the windows and house frame suggest something off about the quiet life of the Glickstein family – at least to Andy’s fevered mind.
As the story unfolds, Andy keeps digging. He tries to conjure some great tragedy out of his sheltered childhood, equal to that of his Holocaust survivor parents. Likewise, he wants Raya and Nate to share some epic, hidden detail that will vindicate his mother’s hero status and make his father worthy of her. In attempting to place an exclamation point on their humdrum lives, he conjures dreamlike images of angels and soldiers, outfitted with careful detail by costumer Ivania Stack.
Andy and the Shadows
Closes May 5, 2013
1529 Sixteenth Street, NW
2 hours, 30 minutes with 1 intermission
Tickets: $45 – $60
Tuesdays thru Sundays
Thankfully, Mendenhall emerges in the second act to pop Andy’s self-important bubble and put him in his place. Her dry wit and gravitas provide a breath of fresh air, offering a welcome pause in her son’s wild goose chase. She fleshes out Andy’s childlike notions with some real-world complexity, eliciting overdue remorse from her Peter-Pan offspring. This stark wake up call helps carry the show through some rough waters to the uplifting, tradition-steeped conclusion.
Part of Roth’s “Born Guilty Cycle,” a trilogy of plays about post-Holocaust remembrance. Andy and the Shadows is a vivid examination of how we view our parents, our culture, and our personal history, all curated with an artist’s touch. But the solid groundwork of the first act is almost undone by Andy’s trying meltdown in the second act.
Nonetheless, director Daniella Topol and her talented cast pull it together to mirror the perfect imperfection of family life, with all its pitfalls and heartwarming surprises.
Andy and the Shadows by Ari Roth . Directed by Daniella Topol . Produced by Theater J as part of the Locally Grown: Community Supported Art Festival . Reviewed by Ben Demers
Lisa Traiger . Washington Jewish Week
Chris Klimek . City Paper
Peter Marks . Washington Post
Missy Frederick . Washingtonian
Elizabeth Bruce . BroadwayWorld
Flora Scott . DCMetroTheaterArts
Roger Catlin . MDTheatreGuide