Not Waving …

Not Waving...," which focuses on the relationship between a retired widow and her recently deinstitutionalized adult daughter, does a neat job of avoiding the pitfalls of fuzzy sentiment. Instead, it is at times sharply funny, at other times nervously funny, and sometimes just plain nervous. The daughter bursts into her mother's life, transforming the older woman from a timid, bridge-playing pensioner to a karate-kicking, house-breaking daredevil. Playwright Gen LeRoy has wisely chosen to focus on the timid mother, Gabby (Sloane Shelton), rather than the high-energy Nicole (Kyra Sedgwick). The real movement of the play must come through Gabby's changes, as it becomes increasingly clear that Nicole's flame will burn brightly but not long. And while there is considerable distance between the retiring personality at the beginning of the play and the empowered being that Gabby becomes at the end, the development rings true.

With:
Cast: Sloane Shelton (Gabby), Kyra Sedgwick (Nicole), Nancy Jo Carpenter (Helen, others), Tim Michael (Mark, others)

In bringing Gabby’s transformation to life, Shelton lends a wonderful honesty to the character’s emotional range, filling the spaces with many fine details. She’s always on the money when handling crucial but delicate moments, as when Gabby discovers that the idealistic Nicole has given her father’s clothes, which the mother had been carefully preserving for 20 years, to a homeless shelter.

As Nicole, Sedgwick personifies the grown-up version of the child Gabby describes as possessing an overly fertile imagination and a despotic nature. She manages the difficult task of maintaining our affections while she makes manic demands of Gabby and everyone else she encounters.

Also noteworthy are the performances of Tim Michael and Nancy Jo Carpenter in a variety of roles. Director Chris Smith maintains the delicate balance between the play’s humor and its sadness. His creative staging includes scenes of an apartment break-in that proceeds through a dark basement to a narrow ledge several stories above ground.

The production’s overall quality is maintained in the tech credits: Tony Walton’s set design, Sharon Sprague’s costumes, Michael Lincoln’s lighting and Randy Freed’s sound.

Not Waving ...

NEW YORK

Production: A Primary Stages Company presentation of a play in two acts by Gen LeRoy. Directed by Chris Smith. Sets, Tony Walton.

Creative: Costumes, Sharon Sprague; lighting, Michael Lincoln; sound, Randy Freed; stage manager, Bridget Murray Edwards; production manager, Andrew Leynse. Artistic director, Casey Childs. Opened March 5, 1997, at Primary Stages. Reviewed March 2; 99 seats; $35 top. Running time: 2 HOURS, 5 MIN.

Cast: Cast: Sloane Shelton (Gabby), Kyra Sedgwick (Nicole), Nancy Jo Carpenter (Helen, others), Tim Michael (Mark, others)

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