Manhattan Theatre Club at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre
261 West 47th St. between Broadway & Eighth Aves.
Tuesday - Sunday through December 15, $67-$120
Late last year, Sharr White’s gripping The Other Place, a searing look inside the mind of a marketing executive lost in her own alternate reality, opened on Broadway after a 2011 run at MCC Theatre. White’s follow-up, The Snow Geese, another coproduction of Manhattan Theatre Club and MCC at the Samuel J. Friedman, is a dreary mashup of Alan Bridges’s 1985 film The Shooting Party and Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard, a just-plain-dull WWI-era tale focusing on a woman having difficulty facing reality after the unexpected loss of her beloved husband. Despite the sudden death of Teddy, Elizabeth Gaesling (Mary-Louise Parker) thinks she is ready to go on with her life as the family comes together at their lodge in upstate New York for their traditional toast at the opening of snow goose season. Elizabeth is joined by her two sons: the patriotic, prodigal Duncan (Evan Jonigkeit), who goes to Princeton and has joined the war effort, and Arnold (Brian Cross), who has stayed home to take care of their mother and the family finances, which are not in very good shape.
Also with them is Elizabeth’s sister, Clarissa (Victoria Clark), a very Christian woman who thinks that Elizabeth should still be in mourning, and her husband, Max (Danny Burstein), a German-born doctor with a thick accent who can no longer practice medicine because of anti-Axis sentiment, even though he has been an American for decades. Most of the meandering story plays out on John Lee Beatty’s stodgy dining-room set, with occasional boring scenes out in bare woods where Duncan and Arnold verbally spar while not shooting at snow geese, who fly by in a metaphorical gaggle of freedom. The most interesting figure in the play is the Gaeslings’ maid, Viktorya Gryaznoy (Jessica Love), a bright young woman from a wealthy family who escaped the Ukraine and has taken a job well below her; how she is treated by the others establishes not only her character but theirs as well. Director Daniel Sullivan (Proof, Orphans) is not able to do much with the material or the mediocre performances, surprising from such a talented cast. The Snow Geese takes aim at examining the human condition in a changing America during WWI but unfortunately ends up firing mostly blanks.