Theater Review - Domesticated (NY)

“How do you get anything accomplished?”  That’s the pointed question asked in “Domesticated.”  A new Bruce Norris play is an event…a special event.  His riff on “Raisin in the Sun,” “Clybourne Park,” won the Tony, the Pulitzer and Olivier awards.  “The Pain and The Itch” was a tour de force. His latest work, “Domesticated,” which was commissioned by LCT, is on stage in a splendidly edgy production directed by Anna D. Shapiro at the Mitzi E Newhouse.  Here in “Domesticated,” Norris, a writer who knows how to explore personal themes and important issues of the day, looks at males and females from the inside out. His work uses a startling range of biological and sexual facts to examine human nature, and in all cases the females are the aggressors and are the winners.

 

Each of the scenes is preceded by a young girl narrating a graphic picture of mating flora and fauna projected above Todd Rosenthal’s set. This is effective only to a point. The first scene opens with the fabulous Jeff Goldblum as Bill apologizing for his bad behavior and resigning from office at a press conference; his suffering wife, Judy, the pluperfect Laurie Metcalf, is by his side dressed in the requisite tailored suit. It seems Bill had a night with a 23 year old prostitute. She hits her head on the bed and is brain dead. Was she pushed or did she fall?  This was a serious moment, but perhaps because this has happened so often in NY, the audience broke into hysterical embarrassed laughter. The couple seems to resemble a mishmash of all the politicians who have been caught in similar predicaments.

 

Bill and Judy’s two daughters, Cassidy (Misha Seo), an adopted child, and Casey, a vociferous teenager depicted realistically by Emily Meade, want nothing to with their father and say so. He sits weeping at the table, while Judy tells Pilar, an energetic Vanessa Aspillaga that they cannot afford to keep her as their housekeeper anymore.

 

Judy’s best friend Bobbi and a lawyer, authoritative Mia Barron, keeps explaining the case to Bill  (She should have recused herself); when Judy discovers that Bill has been having affairs for years and has had a fling with Bobbi, she is outraged. But she does not leave, he does! Taking his own space, guitar in hand, he delivers a stinging monologue in the second act in which he blames all women for his problems

 

Photos of the severely injured girl and her mother in the hospital are projected overhead. Suddenly, the girl is awake and recalls nothing.  Bill and Judy seem to be repairing their lives, but there is no moral imperative, here. What starts with a bang, ends with a whimper. “Domesticated”-- Entertaining moments, wonderful acting, easily forgotten.  How do you get anything accomplished?  

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