Accidentally Brave

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Photo: Jeremy Daniel Review
“This is not supposed to be my life,” Maddie Corman screams – more than once – on the stage of the DR2 Theatre during the 90 minutes of her painfully honest and surprisingly humorous bioplay “Accidentally Brave.” It’s the kind of universal statement that makes us feel like we’ve all been in Corman’s shoes; what New Yorker hasn’t uttered those words while on a delayed subway train or during a terrible day at work? But it’s very unlikely more than a few audience members have ever been in the same circumstance of this appealing, down-to-earth actress.

If you don’t already know (and if that’s the case, you will find out quickly enough), in 2015, Corman’s husband, director Jace Alexander, was suddenly arrested for possession of child pornography found on his home computer. It’s the kind of unthinkable situation the long-married, suburban-dwelling mother of three never expected to face, and one which she freely admits she’s still dealing with day-by-day in 2019. That she has chosen to share how she handled this life-changing event, primarily in the year following the incident, is more than accidentally brave; it’s purposefully so.

What’s also brave is that Corman sticks to her guns about making the piece “her” story. While Corman does talk about her husband and her children at many points during the play, she does not, by and large, tell us much about their actions (or reactions) during this crisis. Almost no mention is made of her other family members (most notably, Alexander’s mother, actress Jane Alexander). And while Corman re-enacts many conversations with a famous woman whom she calls her “angel” and who became her close confidante after the arrest – although they had never previously met – she refuses to disclose the person’s identity. (Best bets are on Oprah!)

Corman is not a veteran playwright, and that shows for better and worse. The play is not so polished that it ever feels false or dishonest; conversely, a few scenes seem unnecessarily mawkish. But what is so smart about her writing are her insights on the behavior of her friends (those who mean well and those who probably didn’t); her own unwillingness (for a while) to accept that other people’s problems – both those she met while visiting Alexander in rehab or, later while attending 12-step programs – were just as difficult and horrible, in their own way, as hers; and her frank admissions about how she was just as upset about the small changes to her life (let’s just say “pumpkins”) as the big ones.

Director Kristin Hanggi, best known for helming such musicals as “Rock of Ages” and “Clueless,” wisely keeps the show from feeling too static, making sure Corman moves around the compact, tastefully-decorated set (by Jo Winiarski) – even if the occasional dancing in place seems a tad goofy. And she makes fine use of Elaine J. McCarthy’s excellent projections, which deftly accomplish creating a timeline and differentiating certain locations.

Corman states (also more than once) that her seemingly surprising decision to tell this story is primarily motivated by her desire to help anyone out there who’s dealing with grief, pain or addiction – and I believe her. But there’s no question, this soul-baring show is also an act of catharsis, and one can only help it aids Corman and her family in their healing process!
By Brian Scott Lipton

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Maddie Corman

Open/Close Dates
Opening 3/25/2019
Closing 6/14/2019

Theatre Info
DR2 Theatre
103 East 15th Street
New York, NY 10003