Great Moments in New York Theater: Cynthia Nixon in Distracted
Definitely with DISTRACTED.
I love new plays. I love plays, period; I am not one of those show queens who doesn’t also love what people refer to as straight plays. I love plays, old and new, revivals, experimental.. you name it, I love it. Unless, of course, it’s bad. AND
I love Cynthia Nixon. I have loved her since my first grown up favourite film, Amadeus. I loved her in every movie I ever saw her in and when I moved to New York and saw her in Angels in America I loved her again. I loved her in INDISCRETIONS (her entrance at the beginning of her first scene, I can still hear in my head) and in ever play I’ve seen her in, here in New York. I am disappointed for having missed her in any play; but that’s my lot in life – to not get to see everything.
I was loving her in DISTRACTED; but not loving the play.
There is so much that happens in the first act of this play.. so much that I hate; and I mean HATE. I hate being ignored. I hate the inhumanity of technology. I hate being ignored FOR technology. I hate people texting while they are spending time with me. I hate people ignoring me for their computer, for the tv, for their crackberry. I hate people answering their phones when they are with me, or even checking their phones when they are with me. I hate so much about Act One of Distracted. I hate it so much that it works my nerves and makes me anxious. I hate it so much that it gives me a headache. I hate it so much that I didn’t want to stay for Act Two, in spite of a strong appreciation for the wok of its’ leading lady.
My better, my greater, my stronger instincts, though, said to me “stay with it”. I told Pat I was being bothered by the play, by the story of a mother whose child appears to have ADD, ADHD, OCD and a whole host of other alphabetical problems that led her to a battery of doctors with opinions with which I also disagreed, and solutions that I found barbaric. Drugs. Medication. Judgments over the treatment of an adolescent with problems nobody wanted to work at, but only wanted to make disappear. The mother is caught in between her love of her child, the demands of her husband, the opinions of the doctors and her own dismay over being a good versus a bad mother. Too Much Drama. That’s what I felt. Too much. Drama. Pat said, though, “stay with it”; and so I did. Much to my great joy.
Cynthia Nixon’s acting (in everything) is so natural, so simple, so heartfelt, it is impossible for me not to get drawn in – honesty is most important in my life and in my acting; and she is honest at every turn. I watched her embodiment of the character as though I were watching one of my own friends. I championed her when she questioned the doctors’ solutions and I cheered for her when she defended her child. I struggled with her every dismay and rejoiced when she found a peace, a grace, a solution that matched her desires to be a good parent. Right there, at the end of the play, she said
“It occurred to me that what I should give my child for his attention deficit disorder…
ROCK ON SISTER.
And she called her young son, heretofore unseen on the stage – only a disembodied voice from offstage – into her world, into her space, into her play. The child came in and the mother talked to him. She showed him the consideration and care that we should all show each other. She turned off the gadgets, the devices, the technology and talked to him. It was the perfect marriage of message, of literature and of casting. This was an honest moment on the New York stage; and as the lights dimmed on the family, finally on their way to a stronger understanding and appreciation of one another, I felt my insides calm from the anxiety of Act One.
And then, to frost the cake on my immense joy at watching the play and the message, during the curtain call Cynthia Nixon gave my favourite kind of bow. She walked forward, strong, confident, secure in her work and her body, stepped toward the audience and, looking as many people in eye as possible, took a deep, appreciative bow; the bow of an actor.
Which, of course, is exactly what Cynthia Nixon is: an actor.
And a mother; it was obvious by her performance that she knows what is inside a mother’s heart.
An actor and a mother.
Not a bad life.