If “the past is prologue,” what follows for those who are stuck in the past?
In their latest work, playwrights Amy Herzog and Francine Volpe focus on protagonists who are diminished by their past.
In Volpe’s “The Good Mother,” at the New Group in the Acorn theater through December 22nd, personal history sets up a pattern of self-destruction and delusion. Larissa (Gretchen Mol) is held back by an infantile crush on her teen counsellor, Joel (Mark Blum.) Larissa exerts her considerable allure to entangle the men in her life in webs of intrigue.
|Mark Blum as Joel and Gretchen Mol as Larissa in “The Good Mother.” Photo by Monique Carboni.|
Memory is a double-edged sword of nostalgia and dread in Herzog’s “The Great God Pan,” at Playwrights Horizons mainstage through Januaray 6, 2013. It may be that Jamie (Jeremy Strong) is stymied by suppressed memories. Jamie has a middling career. He is not fully committed in his long-term relationship with Paige (Sarah Goldberg.) His mother, Cathy (Becky Ann Baker) worries that is not happy. Jamie is stumbling along with his life when he reunites with a boyhood friend, Frank (Keith Nobbs).Frank’s unwelcome revelations make Jamie and his father, Doug (Peter Friedman) uneasy.
|Jeremy Strong as Jamie with Sarah Goldberg as Paige in “The Great God Pan.” Photo by Joan Marcus.|
|Keith Nobbs as Frank and Jeremy Strong as Jamie in “The Great God Pan.” Photo by Joan Marcus.|
|Gretchen Mol as Larissa with Darren Goldstein as Jonathan in “The Good Mother.” Photo by Monique Carboni.|
Larissa is a temptress and a user. She doesn’t seem to care that her schemes, like her troubled past, all seem to backfire. It’s easy to see her triumphant smirk from ten rows back as she draws in the long-ago jilted Buddy (Alfredo Narciso.)