Rating: Five stars
This very warm, very touching, sometimes wee bit shocking slice of theatre was very difficult for me to watch at times, not because it was in any way bad, but because it was in so many ways extremely good. Let me explain.
A family finds itself faced with the impending death of dad. He is resting at home but in the final stages of a deadly cancer. As the unavoidable and clearly obvious end works itself out the family is drawn back to their roots and the old homestead. So why would such a touching story cause me discomfort? Just two years ago I literally dropped dead, but managed to survive. The crisis, however, brought my family back to me and the experience was not that different from what was being portrayed before me on stage. I kept looking at the “old man” and I kept seeing me. That is personal obviously.
For a broader audience “Better” is a beautiful story of human imperfection. It peels away at the outer core of its main characters and vividly reveals inner secrets. I believe that what is portrayed is actually a brilliant revelation of the true essence of humanity brought to the fore by impending tragedy of the most profound kind. However, as with life itself, the play is peppered with abundant humor as well as moving drama.
The entire cast is superb but I must say that Meredith Bishop as Annie is absolutely sensational. She is the perfect match for a pivotal role.
“Better” is presented by the Echo Theater Company, a venerable theatrical company with a distinguished history of offering world premieres of some of the very best in new plays. They have once again brought a solid winner to the theatre going public with this world premiere of “Better.” This is now the fourth collaboration between the Echo Theater Company and playwright Jessica Goldberg. It offers great entertainment but is as is so often the case focuses almost exclusively n the process with only minimal regard for a destination. That is less a criticism than an observation.