SJP all but steals the show in "The Commons of Pensacola." Credit: Joan Marcus
As Becca, a struggling actress, Sarah Jessica Parker makes the ordinary seem extraordinary in MTC's "The Commons of Pensacola." Not that it’s ordinary for your father to be convicted for Bernie Madoff-style embezzlement — or for a stash of cash to be sitting in your mother’s freezer. But much of Becca’s time is spent navigating tinder box relationships with her family. And without fireworks, Parker immerses herself in this role, taking on Becca's burdens with a dedication as all-encompassing as it is nonchalant.
Becca's mother, Judith (a spirited Blythe Danner), is doing just fine, thank you very much. It seems her husband had given her more than enough untraceable currency to get by after his demise; her condo is not luxurious but she’s hardly roughing it, especially with the help of her “maid,” Lorena (Nilaja Sun). Becca and her much younger boyfriend Gabe (Michael Stahl-David) have come for Thanksgiving, soon joined by her niece, Lizzy (Zoe Levin), followed by Lizzy’s mother, Ali (Ali Marsh). When Gabe pitches to Judith a documentary he and Becca would like to produce about her, you can’t help but question his motives.
It’s hard not to think of Woody Allen’s Madoff-themed "Blue Jasmine" while watching “Pensacola” and, truth be told, the Allen film has more to it. Still, actress Amanda Peet, testing the waters as a playwright, injects enough conflict, color and humor to make this show engaging. Mother, boyfriend, niece and sister all throw Becca challenges that Parker handles with honesty and aplomb.
If you go
‘The Commons of Pensacola’ Through Jan. 26 Manhattan Theatre Club NY City Center Stage I 131 W. 55th St. $105, 212-581-1212 www.nycitycenter.org