Happiness is having a large, loving, caring, close-knit family in another city. George Burns
Based on real life situations and events, Marshall Goldberg has managed to seamlessly incorporate reality, caricature, humor (including one-liners like “the annoying never die”), and shtick in writing Daddy Issues. Add to that the perceptive and impeccable direction of David Goldyn and you have an exceptionally enjoyable production.
Matt Koplik as Donald Moscowitz does a terrific job portraying a twenty-something gay actor (he’s up for a cat food commercial) who is doing his best to be his own individual self, all of which is unacceptable to his very Jewish and overbearing parents. All they want in life is for their son to marry a good girl and give them a grandchild. Is it any wonder that he is driven to make up a story (as in lie)? There is also, admittedly, the added incentive of a double inheritance.
His parents, Sid (Tony Rossi) and Marion (Kate Katcher) somehow escape being caricatures of Jewish parents and present themselves as real, though admittedly difficult, people. Completing the family unit, Deb Armelino makes Grandma, who has a serious obsession with circumcision, not only irritating, but also loveable.
The plot thickens when Donald, reaching his breaking point, tells his family that he has indeed provided them with a son, albeit ten years ago. But how to provide a ten year old “son.” The solution is in ten year old Johnny Walker (yes, that is his real name) who lives upstairs with his mother. Alex Ammerman plays Johnny with all the finesse of a seasoned actor. He is very real and very funny and never misses a beat.
Shua Potter, Alex Ammerman and Matt Koplik
But then Johnny needs a mother, an ex-girlfriend from Donald’s college days, to introduce to the family. Vying for the role of Johnny’s mother, Mary Ellen, are Levi and Henrietta, two of Donald’s best friends. Shua Potter as Levi is an extreme, but oddly believable, effeminate fellow who is also a drag queen. He is incredibly funny and wears his drag getup with ease and flair. As Henrietta, Elizabeth Klein is very sincere, inventive, a bit quirky, and totally endearing. Allyson Haley, who portrays Johnny’s real life mother, a woman with a serious drinking problem, manages to walk a fine line between reality and caricature with her performance.
The production team has done an effective job. Lighting Designer Mitchell Ost, Scenic Designer Kevin Klakouski, and Costume Designer Antonio Consuegra each contribute their own excellence to the production.
As to the outcome of all the chaos, you’ll have to discover that for yourselves. Daddy Issues is the perfect antidote for the weariness and concern of an approaching election and the approaching holiday season. It has two more days of a very limited run, Saturday, November 5, at 8 p.m. and Sunday, November 6, at 3 p.m. at Theatre at St. Clement’s, 423 West 46th Street (between 9th and 10th Avenues). Do your best to see it, but if you can’t, rest assured that it will definitely be heard from again.
Photos by Stephen M. Cyr
Top photo: Deb Armelino, Kate Katcher, Matt Koplik, and Shua Potter