Tuesday, April 30, 2013

A Glance Inside The Madrid

Since I'm pretty delayed here, I am going to uncharacteristically keep this short, sweet, and to-the-point. Or, at least I'll try. Last week I went to see Edie Falco's off-Broadway drama, The Madrid (ahem, um, for the second time). That I saw the show twice, while misleading for some after reading the coming review, was rooted not in the content of the mediocre show but rather in its casting. Let that be the precurser to the heart of the evaluation.

At this point, I think my stance on Edie Falco is pretty clear. She could pretty much do no wrong... on premium cable, on the stage, or veritably anywhere. I would be content watching her mop the floor. All that on the table, her portrayal of the lead character Martha in The Madrid, was good. If anyone knows me or my writing at all, the word "good" is not a word that typically exits either my lips or fingers. But in this case, the word is oddly appropriate. Falco played Martha, the mother-teacher-turned-seeming-fugitive-from-life, for all she was worth.  Given the shallowness of the script that is. This surface-level-only character study came as a surprise from Nurse Jackie producer Liz Flahive. Throughout the 100+ minute show, we are invited to merely make the acquaintance of its main characters. We meet, we greet, and never get past that. 

Within the first few minutes after the curtain goes up, Martha abandons her career as a teacher and her role as a wife and mother. She moves out of her family's house into her own run-down-piece-of-shit apartment in a building aptly called The Madrid. Falco makes Martha seem aloof and un-maternal... and from there, we are forced to draw our own conclusions as to why she has abandoned her entire life. Perhaps it is due to this forced subjective speculation or perhaps to my own biases but Martha seemed to bear an uncanny persona resemblance to the nurse/former addict/narcissist Jackie Peyton. Well, without the dyed blonde hair, pills and blood that is. Whether the similarity was intentional or not, I could not shake the deja-vu-esque feeling during the show's entire duration. But I digress.

Flahive's unstrategic use of time/scenes throughout is also questionable. Why she spends any amount of effort delving into neighbors Becca and Danny and their "giant boy" son remains a mystery. I, as I suspect most of the audience as well, would have much preferred an incremental ten minute look into Martha's psyche. What was she thinking? Why did she get married or pregnant in the first place? These are all questions that would have shed much-needed light on the otherwise dim plot. On the plus side, Martha's mother, Sex-and-the-City's-Trey's-Waspy-too-close-for-comfort-mother-Bunny, provides some consistent quality acting and comic relief. Unlike many others, her character feels connected, clear, and real.

Well, so much for keeping it concise. Overall, I did quite enjoy Edie Falco, er, The Madrid.
It was thrilling to watch a dark-haired Carmela slash Jackie at her craft a mere few feet in front of me. (Cheers to that fabulous man who invited me to sit with him in the first row!!). Oh yeah, and then casually chat with her on the street. No biggie. It was a thrill of a lifetime. Really. Suffice to say, though, if you were to take the woman out of the apartment, it would be just another big empty space. Let's hope when Edie vacates the premises, The Madrid does too.

Overall rating: Edie A-. Liz C+. 

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