NEW YORK (AP) — The intermission at "The Assembled Parties" takes 20 years. No, really: The first act begins and ends in a Manhattan apartment on Christmas Day in 1980, and the second opens in the same place on Christmas Day in 2000. It is the best time travel right now on Broadway.
The latest work by playwright Richard Greenberg is a beautiful and touching look at the inner workings of a well-to-do family, their mistakes and the stories that bind them.
The two-decade shift reveals that the things that bother us now intensely — that boil our blood or worry us — are often not the things we care about later. And that people we thought we knew are very different. Love and compassion seem to travel through time fine, however.
The Manhattan Theatre Club's world premiere — starring a luminous Jessica Hecht and a super Judith Light — opened Wednesday at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre, a few blocks from where Greenberg's other Broadway work this season, "Breakfast at Tiffany's," sits like a lump. There's no question which of his plays to see.
The two parts of "The Assembled Parties" can stand alone, but few patrons will not want to see what eventually happened to the folks in Act 1. Light and Hecht, who play sisters-in-law, are the spine of the show, and only a few of the other characters take the jump in time with them.
Lynne Meadow directs with superb skill, keeping the tension rising while allowing the actors all the room to show their gifts.
Hecht plays Julie, a former movie star with two beautiful kids who seems to have everything — riches, a great husband and skill in the kitchen. It is her 14-room apartment with rich inlays and expensive wooden furniture where both acts take place. Though all are Jews, Christmas is being celebrated with food and wine and tinsel.
Julie is a fascinating character: She's a romantic, but not a pushover. She's deeply emotional, intelligent and yearning, but not always willing to probe the darkness. With a breathy, calm and happy demeanor, Hecht is addictive to watch.