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Adagio Teas
   Features  >  NY Theater Reviews

 
GREATER CLEMENTS
at Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater

SECOND CHANCES
By JOE DZIEMIANOWICZ

  (Background L to R) Nina Hellman, Ken Narasaki, Andrew Garman; (center) Judith Ivey and Edmund Donovan/ Ph: T. Charles Erickson.

Set in 2017 in a once-thriving Idaho mining town that’s gone belly-up, Greater Clements, by MacArthur fellow Samuel D. Hunter (The Whale, Pocatello), is a thoughtful but long-winded and low-impact drama of ordinary people at a crossroads. Over its three acts and a nearly three-hour running time, this show at the Mitzi E. Newhouse at Lincoln Center gets mired in melodrama and some creaky narrative devices, including an overheard conversation that triggers a desperate act you can see coming from a mile away.

Sixty-something Maggie (Judith Ivey) is a lifelong Clements resident whose family worked in and died in the local mine. She’s in the process of shuttering the modest museum dedicated to the local industry that she’s run for years and has no regrets about closing up shop or nostalgia for the past. She has her hands full worrying about her 27-year-old son Joe (Edmund Donovan), who’s mentally ill and prone to disturbing behavior. Out of the blue her high school sweetheart, Billy (Ken Narasaki), accompanied by his 14-year-old granddaughter Kel (Haley Sakamoto), arrives and offers Maggie an invitation to pick up where they left off nearly five decades earlier. Is that even possible?

Between Hunter’s script and the staging by director Davis McCallum, which comes with a scenic design that regularly blocks actors from theatergoers’ views, the downbeat play only fitfully gets traction. At its best, it takes a clear-eyed look at second chances and selflessness and provides a showcase for Ivey and Donovan, whose rich performances run deep.

 


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