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How I Learned to Drive back After 25 Years

How I Learned to Drive back After 25 Years

I was lucky enough to see the original How I Learned to Drive Off Broadway starring Mary-Louise Parker, David Morse and Johanna Day, under the direction of Mark Brokaw. Now 25 years later it is on Broadway at MTC’s Samuel J. Friedman Theatre with added newcomers Alyssa May Gold and Chris Myers.

Mary-Louise Parker, Photo by Jeremy Daniel

Paula Vogel’s memory play about sexual abuse by the uncle that grooms her is told from all different angles during different “driving lessons”. Parker plays Li’l Bit and Morse, Uncle Peck, who seems to be slyly pouncing every moment they are alone.

Mary-Louise Parker, David Morse Photo by Jeremy Daniel

Li’l Bit’s last memory is when she was 11 and Peck molested her for the first time as she was silent.

In the end, Li’l Bit is finally ready to move past the damage done and into a future full of possibilities.

Parker is still wonderful in the role letting us understand Li’l Bit’s emotions at different ages. She is real and genuine.

The difference is the show feels less intimate this time around. Scenes that should make us feel uncomfortable don’t and the situations don’t have that sense of urgency or impending danger. Therefore we feel outside looking in and don’t get pulled in. This time around we feel more for Peck, as we see his failings and weakness. He becomes more human instead of monstrous.

Alyssa May Gold, David Morse, Johanna Day Mary-Louise Parker, Chris Myers Photo by Jeremy Daniel

The new cast members Alyssa May Gold and Chris Myers, play numerous roles and don’t feel up to the task.

It is Johanna Day, who brings the most back to the role. When she admits that she knows what is going on and blames her niece, we see how Lil’ Bit was always damned and now we feel now we fell what??. Her rules for women drinking is also well done.

Rachel Hauck’s set doesn’t help and again alienates.

What is wonderful to see is Vogel’s growth as a writer and the original cast getting their day in the sun.

It is possible this show will take home a Tony or two but it will be more out of sentimentality.

How I Learned to Drive: MTC’s Samuel J. Friedman Theatre, 261 W 47th Street until May 29th

Broadway

Suzanna, co-owns and publishes the newspaper Times Square Chronicles or T2C. At one point a working actress, she has performed in numerous productions in film, TV, cabaret, opera and theatre. She has performed at The New Orleans Jazz festival, The United Nations and Carnegie Hall. She has a screenplay and a TV show in the works, which she developed with her mentor and friend the late Arthur Herzog. She is a proud member of the Drama Desk and the Outer Critics Circle and was a nominator. Email: suzanna@t2conline.com

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