Manhattan Theatre Club
New York City Center Stage 1
131 West 55th St. between Sixth & Seventh Aves.
Extended through May 5, $95
It’s an intriguing proposition that many people probably consider at least once in their lives. In Liz Flahive’s The Madrid, Martha (Edie Falco) goes ahead and does it. One day, while teaching her kindergarten class, Martha simply gets up and walks out of her life, leaving her career and her family behind. Her gentle, loving husband, John (Tony nominee John Ellison Conlee), and their daughter, Sarah (Spring Awakening’s Phoebe Strole), are stunned and devastated by Martha’s disappearance, as are neighbors and best friends Becca (Heidi Schreck) and Danny (Darren Goldstein). However, Martha’s elderly mother, Rose (two-time Tony winner Frances Sternhagen), seems to take it a little more in stride. A recent college graduate who gets a job at Starbucks while contemplating her future, a confused Sarah is eventually contacted by her mother, who has moved into a ratty city apartment building called the Madrid; soon Sarah must decide whether she wants to have any kind of a relationship with her mother, who insists that Sarah tell no one, especially John, about where she is and what she is doing. Flahive and director Leigh Silverman (Chinglish, In the Wake), who previously teamed up on From Up Here, also for Manhattan Theatre Club, ask lots of questions but don’t necessarily provide the answers in the quirky, unpredictable 130-minute show that examines personal and familial identity and one’s place in the world. Martha never fully explains why she’s done what she’s done, and Falco plays her with an air of repressed mystery, like she’s not sure of the reasons either. Throughout the play, Flahive, a producer on Falco’s award-winning Showtime series Nurse Jackie, has John and Sarah prepare for a garage sale, trying to get rid of so many of the physical objects that remind them of Martha while also attempting to figure out how to deal with her desertion emotionally and psychologically. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it turns out that walking out on one’s life is not exactly a party, something Flahive handles in The Madrid with an at-times frustrating lack of clarity but also with sensitive care and humor. (Falco will be at the 92nd St. Y on April 7 for a Broadway Talks conversation and audience Q&A about the play and more with Jujamcyn Theaters president Jordan Roth.)