By William Considine
Reviewed by Robert Viagas
Playwright William Considine tears the bandage off the unhealed wound of his family’s disintegration in the unsparing memory play Moral Support, having its Off-Off-Broadway premiere at the Medicine Show Theatre in Manhattan.
Directed by Félix Gardón, the drama takes us deep into the broken heart of a dysfunctional family torn apart by alcoholism and emotional abuse. The mother (Cynthia Shaw) is desperately needy and manipulative. The father (David A.P. Brown) was a sometimes violent drunk. Their son Mike (Richard Keyser) is now a grown man, but is drawn back into serving as a reluctant ping-pong ball doomed by misplaced guilt to bounce forever between his two divorced parents who still have an unhealthy emotional hold on one another.
Brown gives the strongest and most centered performance as a father who understands what he did wrong and what his weaknesses are. He is trying to move on. Shaw, who still needs to work on her timing and grasp of her lines, still manages to create a rounded portrait of a woman whose expectations in life were never fully met, and who blames her ex-husband and her children for her disappointments. As their vacillating and guilt-ridden son, Keyser is a little too easily pushed around by these two emotional bullies.
Playwright Considine, who has said that Moral Support is frankly autobiographical, takes his audience on a sometimes harrowing tour of a very private place.
Also featuring Norah McCarthy, Moral Support runs through March 3 at the Medicine Show Theatre, 549 West 52nd Street, in Manhattan.