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Estelle Parsons Opens The Velocity of Autumn


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Well, three nights in a row we have openings, and the first two did so well that the third had to be the sacrificial lamb so that the critics could prove they don't like everything! Yes, The Velocity of Autumn fared the worst of the three, but that's not so bad after all. The reviews are mixed.

 

Our synopsis is: The Velocity of Autumn swirls around Alexandra, a 79-year-old artist in a showdown with her family over where she'll spend her remaining years. In Alexandra's corner are her wit, her volcanic passion and the fact that she's barricaded herself in her Brooklyn brownstone with enough Molotov cocktails to take out the block. But her children have their own secret weapon: estranged son Chris who returns after 20 years, crawls through Alexandra's second floor window, and becomes the family’s unlikely mediator. No sooner are the words "Hi, Mom" uttered than the emotional bombs start detonating.

 

And the website didhelikeit.com offers summaries of the reviews with links to the full reviews: http://www.didhelikeit.com/shows/The-Velocity-of-Autumn-reviews.html

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Well, three nights in a row we have openings, and the first two did so well that the third had to be the sacrificial lamb so that the critics could prove they don't like everything! Yes, The Velocity of Autumn fared the worst of the three, but that's not so bad after all. The reviews are mixed.

 

Our synopsis is: The Velocity of Autumn swirls around Alexandra, a 79-year-old artist in a showdown with her family over where she'll spend her remaining years. In Alexandra's corner are her wit, her volcanic passion and the fact that she's barricaded herself in her Brooklyn brownstone with enough Molotov cocktails to take out the block. But her children have their own secret weapon: estranged son Chris who returns after 20 years, crawls through Alexandra's second floor window, and becomes the family’s unlikely mediator. No sooner are the words "Hi, Mom" uttered than the emotional bombs start detonating.

 

And the website didhelikeit.com offers summaries of the reviews with links to the full reviews: http://www.didhelikeit.com/shows/The-Velocity-of-Autumn-reviews.html

 

I know about 'The Cripple of Inishmaan' what was the other opening night?

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

As always, the Tony nominations bring a round of cheers and a few announcements about show closings; producers who must finally admit that the public isn't going to find their shows. Velocity of Autumn, with only one nomination from the committee, (for Estelle Parsons), will close this Sunday. (Bridges of Madison County has also posted a closing notice for 5/18 after only getting four nods, for Score, Orchestrations, Lighting, and Kelli O'Hara.)

 

The subject matter of Velocity of Autumn is pretty prescient for me...my aging mom has moved into a "stepped" community, and while she still lives independently, there are options for her if/when she starts to "decline." Folks who know me, (and my mom) know that my mom makes June Cleaver look like Chicago's Velma Kelly.

 

I was a teen and in my twenties when my parents went through this life-event with THEIR parents, but I have no recollection of them discussing it amongst themselves, or with their friends...and yet for me and my circle, it comes up every time I enjoy time we get together.

 

So many of the issues that Stephen Spinella is facing are weekly conversations for me. (Although I don't think my mom will ever rig up 100 molotov cocktails and spend a couple hours flicking her father's lighter.) (But, yes, her father's lighter IS right there in the drawer of the coffee table.)

 

"CRRRREEEAAAK" says Parsons' Alexandra as she pushes herself out of a chair..."You know you're getting old when you start making sound effects for your body."

 

"Proper nouns are the first thing to go...what was the name of that museum we went to?"

 

"Evelyn and her husband are 83 and 86 and they went to Egypt last year. I can barely get to the market." My mom has trouble finding her car in the supermarket parking lot.

 

"You know...you could move back." Not a month goes by that my mother doesn't suggest that I think about relocating back upstate.

 

And most heartbreaking: "I'm a little less 'me' every day."

 

He says that he doesn't want to think about finding her lying on the floor, having had a stroke or a heart attack, near death, unable to call for help. Her reply? "Just put a blanket over me and leave me alone."

 

Perhaps more fitting for a smaller off-Broadway house, I am not saying that this is a great piece of writing, but as playwright Eric Coble's Broadway debut, this is a handsome production, with a top notch duo, which brings up the very real issue affecting my generation. Many of my friends are also encountering the moving of their parents out of the family home, into smaller quarters, or worse. And dealing with this is a taxing study in patience while allowing everyone to maintain their dignity.

 

Part of the problem with the play is that it's never really clear why Spinella's character, Chris, is there at all. His mother may be moving slowly, but she seems mostly cogent, and the vague motivations of his unseen older siblings seems purely selfish. Concern for her? Or the real estate? The antagonism between Alexandra and her older children isn't seen...she refuses to speak with them, but Chris demonstrates it (childishly) by turning off his phone. Which brings up another issue: why is it that when dealing with my older brother and sisters, suddenly I feel like a child again?

 

For the $40 I paid on tdf, (and it was on the cheaper clubs as well,) I don't for a second regret seeing this tremendous actress display the fight against growing old. I was interested to hear this familiar dialogue in unfamiliar voices, and know that it will prompt discussion among my friends...and most likely an argument with my siblings. LOL

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