Formidable acting, especially by lead Janie Dee. A terrific spinning set. A meaty topic – aging – as experienced by a middle-aged business woman. Janie Dee’s attractive female executive is a strong voice for the thoughts, fears, compromises and dilemmas that can appear as the years add up – maybe too many years of trying to be Wonder Woman. “Linda,” at the Manhattan Theater Club, belongs in the same genre as the best-selling 2003 book by Allison Pearson: “I Don’t Know How She Does It: The Life of Kate Reddy, Working Mother.”
In the first half of Penelope Skinner’s new play, I didn’t look at my watch at all (a good sign). There were probably too many themes jumbled together, but it was all working, the audience was laughing, and it was fun to watch such good acting even if the plot evolution seemed a tad predictable (hubris and self-knowledge feature prominently).
But what happened in the second act? The London version had a different ending, and I wonder if it should have survived the ocean crossing… The NY second act is mismatched to its first act: too long, a bit clunky, frustrating, overwrought. We left very disappointed in the ending (at one point, it looked like we were about to have a China Doll-airplane moment) and wishing that the second act would get a rewrite – and then please bring this play back, with the same fabulous cast. The central topic is compelling, and many of the secondary themes are great too, but the script could be more effective if streamlined.
I’m glad that authors and playwrights are featuring the impossibility, pressure and futility of “working mom perfection;” and if we had left at intermission I’d have given it four stars.