‘Till Death – Or Curtain

‘Till Death is aply titled. You’re about to spend 90 minutes watching Mary (Judy Kaye) painfully die surrounded by her vociferously dysfunctional family. Happily married only four years to second husband Michael (Robert Cuccioli), cancer is cutting her life short. Mary’s decision to commit medical suicide brings out the worst in her children.

Anne (Whitney Morse), a would-be painter supported or subsidized by her mom, is tender and quiet to the point she almost disappears. Lucy (Amy Hargreaves) has anger (really, fury) management issues. Pretty much everything and everybody else is wrong. Why? She suffocates high school age son Nick (Michael Lee Brown). Jason (Dominick Laruffa, Jr.), a successful financial executive and braggart is around less.

Amy Hargreaves (Anne), Whitney Morse (Lucy)

Anne wants Mary to continue treatment. Lucy facilitates every step of her mom’s decision steamrolling interference. Nick has a particularly close relationship with his gran and doesn’t really understand her decision. When she explains her wishes to die with dignity, his response is to ask for her car. Devoted Michael fills his wife’s days with attention and silly jokes – which Lucy loudly, disrespectfully scorns. There are two secrets. Both raise issues we never see resolved.

Judy Kaye (Mary), Michael Lee Brown (Nick)

Acting is – professional. That several of the characters seem like sketches can’t have made things easier. I sympathized with Michael’s aching helplessness, recoiled from Lucy’s venom, and recognized Mary’s dignity.

A tough piece to watch for many reasons.

Direction by Chad Austin is well detailed, staging area effectively used, pacing good.

Teresa L. Williams’ set is unattractive and dated. That Mary’s “bed” is really an ottoman robs it of its purpose. A single allusion in the script implies this might be a retirement residence in which case Williams’ choices would make more sense.

Projection design by Lisa Renkel features aesthetically tossed photos of the family over years, Mary’s first husband, and her wedding to Michael. Medical charts are later interspersed. The effect is credible and evocative.

Photos by Julieta Cervantes
Opening: Judy Kaye (Mary) and Robert Cuccioli (Michael)

‘Till Death by Elizabeth Coplan
Directed by Chad Austin

Through December 23, 2023
Presented by Abingdon Theatre Co.
Theatre Row 
410 West 42nd Street

About Alix Cohen (1686 Articles)
Alix Cohen is the recipient of ten New York Press Club Awards for work published on this venue. Her writing history began with poetry, segued into lyrics and took a commercial detour while holding executive positions in product development, merchandising, and design. A cultural sponge, she now turns her diverse personal and professional background to authoring pieces about culture/the arts with particular interest in artists/performers and entrepreneurs. Theater, music, art/design are lifelong areas of study and passion. She is a voting member of Drama Desk and Drama League. Alix’s professional experience in women’s fashion fuels writing in that area. Besides Woman Around Town, the journalist writes for Cabaret Scenes, Broadway World, TheaterLife, and Theater Pizzazz. Additional pieces have been published by The New York Post, The National Observer’s Playground Magazine, Pasadena Magazine, Times Square Chronicles, and ifashionnetwork. She lives in Manhattan. Of course.