Our Mother’s Brief Affair BROADWAY REVIEWS

Photo: Joan Marcus
  • NY TIMES

  • TIME OUT

  • DAILY NEWS

  • HR

  • NBC

Opening Night:
January 20, 2016
Closing:
March 6, 2016

Theater: Samuel J. Friedman Theatre / 261 West 47th Street, New York, NY, 10036

Synopsis: 

On the verge of death for the umpteenth time, Anna (Linda Lavin) makes a shocking confession to her grown children: an affair from her past that just might have resonance beyond the family. But how much of what she says is true? While her children try to separate fact from fiction, Anna fights for a legacy she can be proud of. With razor-sharp wit and extraordinary insight, "Our Mother’s Brief Affair" considers the sweeping, surprising impact of indiscretions both large and small.

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  • NEW YORK TIMES REVIEW OF Our Mother’s Brief Affair

    ‘Our Mother’s Brief Affair,’ a Play About Unmoored Lives

    Ben Brantley

    January 20, 2016: Every mother is Greta Garbo to her children, at least upon occasion. The woman you were closest to in the world, the one who weaned and wiped you, could suddenly seem so ravishingly remote it was scary. What was really on her mind those nights she tucked you into bed, deliciously lipsticked and perfumed for an evening out? Such is the enigma who presides over “Our Mother’s Brief Affair,” Richard Greenberg’s untethered play about unmoored lives, which opened on Wednesday night at the Samuel J. Friedman Theater, starring a marvelous Linda Lavin. Her name is Anna, and while she has a way of wearing a Burberry trench coat with a certain je ne sais quoi, this Long Island housewife would be few people’s idea of a glamorous sphinx. But to the twins she gave birth to and reared in a state of otherwise-engaged preoccupation, Anna is a tantalizing unknown, especially as she nears death. “Who was she?” asks her son, Seth (an anxiously neutral Greg Keller), as the play begins. Seth works as an obituary writer but can’t begin to sum up this particular life.

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  • TIME OUT NEW YORK REVIEW OF Our Mother’s Brief Affair

    Our Mother's Brief Affair Theater review

    Adam Feldman

    January 20, 2016: No one plays Jewish mothers with secrets better than Linda Lavin. It’s a specialty she’s been honing for decades, from her stoic Brooklyn mama in "Broadway Bound" (1986) to her unlikely Upper West Side hedonist in "The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife" (2000), her merry soon-to-be-widow in "The Lyons" (2011) and now the sharp-tongued Anna in Richard Greenberg’s piquant "Our Mother’s Brief Affair." You recognize these women right away, because Lavin plays them so hilariously to New York Jewish type: She has a cartoonist’s control and economy of line. But to recognize them is not, it turns out, to know them. Anna is an elderly woman with incipient dementia, so her adult children—Seth (Greg Keller), a single gay obituary writer in New York, and Abby (Kate Arrington), a librarian with a girlfriend and child in California—are not sure what to believe when she tells them that she cheated on their father when they were kids.

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  • NEW YORK DAILY NEWS REVIEW OF Our Mother’s Brief Affair

    'Our Mother's Brief Affair' review: Linda Lavin is on her game

    Joe Dziemianowicz

    January 20, 2016: No one does difficult moms like Linda Lavin. The Tony winner and ex-“Alice” star is on her game playing yet another one on Broadway in “Our Mother’s Brief Affair.” With signature style, wry wit and an irresistible glint in her eye, Lavin makes Anna Cantor, “an average situational liar,” as she’s called, a force to be reckoned with. Lavin can do that in her sleep. Even so, the play is a snooze. Too bad, since author Richard Greenberg, a Tony winner for the baseball play “Take Me Out,” gets right to the point in this meditation on identity, as a son and daughter come to terms with the fact that Mom may really be dying this time. The play’s first line: “Who was she?”

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  • HOLLYWOOD REPORTER REVIEW OF Our Mother’s Brief Affair

    Linda Lavin stars as a dying woman looking to shift the perspective on her legacy of bitterness in Richard Greenberg's memory play

    David Rooney

    January 20, 2016: It takes some doing to stifle the prickly humor of Linda Lavin, but Our Mother's Brief Affair makes her character both an unreliable narrator and one who's astringent to the point of unpleasantness. Playwright Richard Greenberg and director Lynne Meadow last collaborated on 2013's The Assembled Parties, which explored the melancholy beauty of memory and the weight of secrets for a New York Jewish family in sorrowful decline. The delicate brushstrokes brought to that haunting story make the aridity of this unsatisfying earlier play, which has some thematic overlap, all the more disappointing. A madly overworked but underdeveloped little piece, it mistakes narration for dramatization, and verbiage for genuine feeling. The play was well received in its 2009 premiere in a different production at South Coast Rep. Go figure. Based on the evidence here, it's difficult to imagine anyone finding much emotional depth in this curdled bummer.

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  • NBC NEW YORK REVIEW OF Our Mother’s Brief Affair

    An "Affair" to Remember, Even if Her Kids Would Prefer to Forget

    Robert Kahn

    January 20, 2016: Linda Lavin is alternately sardonic and fragile in the New York premiere of Richard Greenberg’s drama “Our Mother’s Brief Affair.” Above all, the Tony winner and sitcom star wittily rules the stage at the MTC’s Samuel J. Friedman Theatre, where “Affair” has just opened. Greenberg’s imperfect 2009 play hinges on a mother’s deathbed confession to her grown children—the affair of the title. The notion of “legacy” weighs heavily in the drama, which touches on themes such as the suburban dream, and the desire, when one’s life is nearing its end, “to be known.”

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