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Review: 'The Assembled Parties' a terrific drama

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 17, 2013 at 7:15 pm •  Published: April 17, 2013

Her sister-in-law Faye is the opposite — a worrier, haunted by poor decisions and fearful of the future. When we first meet the two, Faye is in his mid-50s and menopausal. She begs her sister-in-law for some chemical relief.

"Give me a pill," she asks.

"Oh — I'm sorry — damn it, I'm not depressed!" Julie says.

The dinner scene in 1980 reveals some drama that the two women are unaware of — Faye's husband, Mort (a terrific Mark Blum), and Julie's husband (a strong Jonathan Walker) have some unattractive business to attend to, which includes a mysterious ruby necklace.

Meanwhile, Julie's oldest son, Scott (Jake Silbermann), is rethinking his life. Scott's school friend Jeff (Jeremy Shamos, superb as always) has been invited and is our guide, playing a stranger navigating long-practiced family rituals.

The first act's several private conversations are made possible by Santo Loquasto's nifty Lazy Susan set, with bedrooms turning to reveal the apartment's entry way, which turns again to reveal a sitting room and then a dining room. A polite but tense dinner — as probably only the very rich can pull off — takes place.

Act 2 opens in 2000 with Julie, Faye and Jeff — now in many ways the family's guardian — in a living room that takes up the whole stage and no longer moves. Julie and Faye have reversed roles in many ways, and the fate of the other characters is revealed, as are most of the loose threads from Act 1. Everyone has aged the same 20 years, but those two decades have done different things to each of them.

And though death is coming close for some, life has begun for others. There are few more poignant scenes than the play's final one, in which wistfulness and hope collide, thanks to some superb acting and writing. It's worth aging 20 years to see.