Beth Henley, long absent from the New York stage until last season's fairly well-received Impossible Marriage at the Roundabout, is having less luck this time. Her new play, Family Week, a five-character work about a family visiting an inmate at a "treatment center," was critically panned and will end its Off-Broadway run April 16. The show started previews March 28 and opened yesterday, April 10. It will have run 16 previews and 8 regular performances by its Sunday evening close.
Ulu Grosbard (The Subject Was Roses, American Buffalo) directed the piece, which had been slated for an open run. According to a production spokesperson at the Richard Kornberg office, Jean Doumanian and Ron Kastner are producing the comedy-drama, with Robert Cole serving as general manager.
Carol Kane, who appeared in four other Henley plays in New York -- The Lucky Spot, The Debutante Ball, Signature and Control Freaks -- stars opposite Angelina (fka "Angie") Phillips, whose recent roles include Look Back in Anger at CSC and the Roundabout's All My Sons.
Family Week is set -- no, not in the south, but in an Arizona desert recovery center. Claire (Phillips) is grieving the loss of a child and suffering an impending divorce. Her mother, Lina (played by M. Butterfly's Rose Gregorio), her sister, Ricky (Kane), and her daughter, Kay (young Julia Weldon), try to help her deal with the past. Only they discover they're part of the problem. The four actresses also take turns playing therapists at the clinic.
Designing Family Week are John Arnone (sets), Clifford Capone (costumes), Paul Gallo (lighting) and T. Richard Fitzgerald (sound). Family Week author Henley is best known for her Pulitzer-winning Crimes of the Heart, as well as The Wake Of Jamey Foster (on Broadway in 1982) and The Miss Firecracker Contest.
Asked what sparked the idea for Family Week, Henley told Playbill On-Line (March 23), “I don’t really want to talk about the personal stuff, but I was obsessing on the theme of tragedy in peoples’ lives. How families deal with hardship and recover from it. When things aren’t fixable, there’s the effort to stand by each other. It’s about there being complex family history, but people still show up when the chips are down.”
For tickets ($49.50-$55 regular) and information on Family Week at the Century Center for the Performing Arts, 111 East 15th St., call (212) 239-6200. Despite the crowded field of productions seeking available Off-Broadway theatres, there’s no word yet on what show might come into the Century Center after Family Week.
-- By David Lefkowitz