Dianne Wiest and Natalia Zvereva are mother and daughter under the direction of David Esbjornson (The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia? ). Tolan penned The Wax and Kate's Diary, both seen at Playwrights Horizons.
Previews began April 22. Performances continue through May 29 at PH's Mainstage Theater at 416 W. 42nd Street.
"On New Year's Eve, devoted mother Maggie (Dianne Wiest) bakes a pie as her daughter Katia (Natalia Zvereva) struggles to finish her college entrance essay before the midnight postmark deadline," accord to PH notes. "The seemingly innocuous topic, 'What's in your memory house?' throws open a Pandora's Box of questions for Katia that lead all the way back to her birth. With increasing anxiety, Maggie attempts to keep her daughter anchored to her deadline and to herself. Memory House is a timely, authentic portrait of a girl — and a world — on the cusp of an uncertain future."
To those who have lived through the trauma of raising a teenager, or for adults who remember being teens who acted out against their parents, the play will likely feel uncomfortably accurate.
The specific references to Katia's past (she was adopted from Russia during the breakup of communism and raised in the U.S. by parents who divorced) make you think perhaps the plot will lead to a revelation about some secret adoption scheme, some hidden crime or illness. Rather, the play offers familiar, palpable and universal reasons why Katia is so itchy during the 90-minute, real-time drama: She is a child of divorce; she is on the brink of a frightening independence (college); she sees her mother as lacking ambition (and is probably terrified to become her mother); angry with people in power, she is confused by the United States' role in world affairs; she is on a deadline for a college entrance essay; it's New Year's Eve; and (looking at the subtext of so much teen angst) she's bursting with teen-age hormones and energy. *
Dianne Wiest is a two-time Academy Award-winner ("Hannah and Her Sisters," "Bullets Over Broadway"). Her Broadway work includes Salome, Solitaire, Othello, Beyond Therapy and In the Summer House. She won a Theatre World Award and an Obie Award for The Art of Dining and a second Obie for her work in the plays Other Places and Serenading Louie. Her other New York stage credits include One Flea Spare at The Public, The Shawl at Jewish Rep and Hunting Cockroaches at MTC.
Joining Wiest is 18-year-old actress Natalia Zvereva, a 2004 graduate of Laguardia High School of the Performing Arts. Making her professional New York stage debut, she previously performed in productions at Laguardia, The Lee Strasberg Theater Institute and Forest Hills Theatre, and has appeared on "As the World Turns." Born in Moscow, she moved to the U.S. with her family at age six.
The production features scenic design by Loy Arcenas, costume design by Elizabeth Hope Clancy, lighting design by Jane Cox and sound design by Jill B.C. DuBoff. Production stage manager is James Latus.
The performance schedule for Memory House is Tuesdays-Fridays at 8 PM, Saturdays at 2:30 & 8 PM and Sundays at 2:30 & 7:30 PM. Tickets are $60.
For information, call Ticket Central at (212) 279-4200 (noon-8 PM daily) or visit www.playwrightshorizons.org.