All of Me

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Photo: Monique Carboni Review
Possessing all the positive qualities of the classic film “rom-com,” Laura Winters’ winning new play “All of Me,” now being presented by The New Group at the Pershing Square Signature Center, has its 20something main characters, Lucy (Madison Ferris) and Alfonso (Danny J. Gomez) meet cute, fall in love almost instantly, exchange loads of witty banter, and endure more than enough conflict to make audiences wonder if the seemingly inevitable happy ending will actually happen.

Yet the play, sharply directed by Ashley Brooke Monroe, also has a much darker side (or two or three) than most Hollywood fare. To begin, both Lucy and Alfonso, who meet outside at a Schenectady hospital loading dock, are disabled. (She has a congenital condition that popped up in her teens; he has an acquired disability from near-birth). They communicate via AAC (alternative and augmentative communication) – which means they speak via TTS (text to speech technology that employs digital voices) -- while getting around in motorized vehicles.

As a result, while both characters, beautifully played by these disabled actors, are smart, attractive, and funny – Lucy has a particularly biting sense of humor -- you’re never completely unaware of the challenges they face in the world at large. Still, Winters is smart enough to not make you feel sorry for them – well, perhaps, at least until you meet their mothers.

Lucy’s mom Connie (Kyra Sedgwick, finally back on stage) is a working-class manicurist with two jobs, an incredibly bad back, a not-exactly-logical fear of opioids, three other people living in her house – including Lucy’s sister Jackie (an appealing Lily Mae Harrington) and her kind-hearted if less-than-responsible fiancé Moose (a fine Brian Furey Morabito) – and a firm belief in Jesus Christ.

What Connie doesn’t seem to really believe in is Lucy’s ability to really make her life better. Yes, she nags her about squeezing balls and doing vocal exercises – Lucy was a promising jazz singer before her disease ravaged her voice -- but one senses Connie is just waiting for a non-disabled knight in shining armor to rescue Lucy and take her away.

Sedgwick, an expert actress, does her best in making Connie believable and sympathetic, if occasionally too stubborn or thoughtless. But one wishes Winters had taken Coco Chanel’s legendary advice about wearing one too many accessories in creating Connie. We get the point that Connie is disabled in her own way (especially the bad back), but there are just too many character traits present for us to absorb and for Sedgwick to play.

Conversely, Winters does little more than sketch Alfonso’s snobby mother Elena (a well-cast Florencia Lozano), a chic, bilingual attorney from Manhattan who visits Alfonso regularly as he decorates his new house. Yep, she has plenty of money, but with an absent husband and a dependence on illegal drugs, she’s ultimately no happier than Connie. But, due to the short-shrift Winters gives Elena, we simply don’t feel the same sympathy for her as we do for Connie.

The biggest issue with the play, however, is how hard Winters tries to make the lovers’ class distinction a major issue, but their different economic statuses is not really the thing that comes between them. Nor are their mothers. Alfonso, a successful data scientist, ultimately has trouble seeing a future with the unambitious Lucy, who can’t even commit to touring a community college for one afternoon. One wishes this subject was explored more – and resolved far less easily -- than it is.

Still, original works that can make audiences laugh – and even cry – are a rarer commodity in theater than they should be these days. So, I’ll take “All of Me.” You should too!
By Brian Scott Lipton

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Open/Close Dates
Opening 5/14/2024
Closing 6/16/2024

Theatre Info
Pershing Square Signature Center
480 West 42nd Street
New York, NY 10036