The Last Seder Takes on Alzheimer’s at a Family Gathering

The Last Seder at Theater Three connects with its audience, many of whom are suffering with a parent or relative with Alzheimer’s. This drama, with humorous overtones by Jennifer Maisel, is about a family who gets together for one last Seder. Like all family gatherings, tensions mount as deeds are misunderstood and recognition fades away. Lily (Kathryn Kates) is packing up the house she has shared with Marvin (Greg Mullavey) who is in an advanced stage of Alzheimer’s. The family is coming together before Lily moves her husband into a nursing home and puts the house up for sale. Their four daughters come back to say goodbye to their memories, their father and to gather up their childhood belongings.

The oldest is Claire (Abigail Rose Solomon), a lawyer, who has commitment issues and has lied to her fiancé, Jon (Eric T Miller), about the wedding and having a child. Her fear is more about how they are going to pay for their father’s care.

Next in-line is Julia (Sarah Winkler), who is gay, pregnant and a therapist and has brought her partner, Jane (Melisa Breiner-Sanders).

Michelle (Gaby Hoffman), is a third grade art teacher and has picked up a stranger, Kent (Ryan Berry) to bring home. The fact her father cannot recognize her, has made her bitter.

Last is Angel (Natalie Kuhn), who is in love with the African American Luke(Andy Lucien).

To complicate matters, the mother is keeping company with the next-door neighbor and Marvin’s best friend, Harold (John Michalski).

There are too many subplots and cast members and it is not until the Seder that the show really shines. Best known for his portrayal as the husband of Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman, Greg Mullavey’s performance is textured and layered. We see the man behind the disease. Kathryn Kates, as the wife losing everything but trying to not let life get her down, makes us feel for her predicament. Others in the cast who fair well are the men caught in the cross fire of the daughters and Ms. Solomon as Claire.

Jessica Bauman’s direction again shines once the Seder begins. The Last Seder runs smoothly. The acting is just adequate, at times, but Greg Mullavey, as Marvin, and Kathryn Kates, as Lily, are standouts.

Jennifer Maisel’s script is touching as it shows how families are torn apart emotionally by a debilitating disease. It is not just the afflicted parent who suffers, but the children who were not prepared to take care of their aging family member as a crisis hits. The Seder sequence was very reminiscent of Prelude to a Kiss where we see, for one last time, the people we once knew and loved.

The Last Seder: 311 West 43rd St 3rd Fl until  Jan. 13th, rosalindproductions.com.

 

Mabel Mercer

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