Performing Arts: Theater
June 30, 2018
Cutthroat competition for school placements can compromise parents and teachers. Wealthy parents wield whatever power and financial fortitude they have on behalf of their children and that ring of influence can ensnare teachers. In Anthony Giardina’s Dan Cody’s Yacht at the Manhattan Theatre Club, individual reputations and moral guideposts are tested.

A highschool English teacher, Cara Russo (Kristen Bush) straddles two socio-economic universes. Her school is based in Stillwell, an affluent town, and she lives in Patchett, a blue-collar town across the river. Her daughter Angela (Casey Whyland) attends the local school and rather than read a sophisticated book like “Beloved,” her school assigns the airport counter paperback “Exodus.” Despite limited means, Cara is determined to navigate the tempestuous waters between her professional and private worlds.

Politically, the two towns are considering combining the school districts and this option ruffles the concerns of Ivy-league minded parents in Stillwell. This local tempest drops a charming man with an agenda, Kevin O’Neil (Rick Holmes) into the equation.

On the surface, he meets Cara and tries to convince her to change his son’s failing grade. Although not swayed by his persuasive arguments, Cara hesitantly accepts his offer to attend monthly “investment” parties. By consenting to mingle with fine people and make more money, Cara’s moral compass begins to tremble.

While Giardina’s scenario is plausible, it remains predictable. Ably directed by Doug Hughes, the cast moves convincingly through John Lee Beatty’s imaginative Stillwell classroom, Cara’s basic kitchen and Kevin’s plush living room. When the contrived plot ropes Cara into the status conscious nether world, education becomes the victim.
EYE ON THE ARS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

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