Off Broadway Theater Review: YOU BETTER SIT DOWN: TALES FROM MY PARENTS’ DIVORCE (The Civilians at The Flea)

by Harvey Perr on April 21, 2012

in Theater-New York

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YOU’RE GONNA STAND UP…

Sometimes in the theater, all you need are four chairs and four actors and a director who knows how to move them around so that everything they do is as natural as breathing.  Welcome to You Better Sit Down: Tales From My Parents’ Divorce, the newest project of the innovative and always fascinating theater company The Civilians, whose collage-like works are based on interviews connected to a common theme.  This time around, the four actors involved (Caitlin Miller, Robbie Collier Sublett, Jennifer R. Morris, Matthew Maher) channel their mothers (Mr. Maher was the only one to get his father to respond as well) and squeeze out every drop of insight and wisdom that a 70-minute confessional can hold.  And they are so thoroughly true and honest that they manage, given the subject, to be not only divisive, but funny, poignant, sharp, melancholy, and always, unblinkingly alert.

The Civilians in You Better Sit Down: Tales From My Parents’ Divorce at The Flea – directed by Anne Kaufman – Off Broadway Theater Review by Harvey PerrMs. Miller’s parents are the products of the Catholicism they both embrace, and which stifles most of their romantic dreams.  Mr. Sublett subtly draws a portrait of a decent woman who learns by degrees that her husband is a thief.  Mr. Maher gives us his father, with a laugh that says as much as his words, and his mother, who pulls on her sweater, as if to ward off the density of her secrets.  Since they are the progressive radical couple, they are also the most balanced.

The Civilians in You Better Sit Down: Tales From My Parents’ Divorce at The Flea – directed by Anne Kaufman – Off Broadway Theater Review by Harvey PerrIf Ms. Morris, who conceived the project, is most memorable, it was because her mother was so fully aware of her own ability to be entertaining, as she makes light of the almost insufferable verbal abuse and philandering her husband inflicts upon her.  Anne Kaufman has staged this collage with elegant simplicity, and one leaves You Better Sit Down with the feeling that one has spent a brief visit with five people you may find hard to extricate from memory.

photos by Joan Marcus

You Better Sit Down: Tales From My Parents’ Divorce
at The Flea in New York City
scheduled to end on May 6
for tickets, visit http://www.theflea.org/

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