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Recovery, or the nightmare of battling addiction

Jill Shackner, Marlain Angelides, Caitlin Cohn, Anna Bergman, Lydia Grace Jordan, Kathleen Mary Carthy, Karen Lynn Gorney.

Marlain Angelides, Jill Shackner, Brian Childers.

"Recovery" by Anne Marilyn Lucas,
directed by Stephan Morrow
October 11 to 28, 2018
Presented by Theater for the New City
Thursdays through Saturdays at 8:00PM, Sundays at 3:00PM
$18 general admission, $15 seniors & students.
Buy tickets: www.theaterforthenewcity.net, (212) 254-1109
Running time: 100 min. with intermission.
Reviewed by Paul Berss October 19, 2018

For the debut production of her play "Recovery" at Theater for the New City, author Anne Lucas has gathered a fine cast to illuminate her own experience - living through the drug addiction of her own daughter, who is now in recovery. She noted a tragic current statistic that appeared in The New York Times, stating "More people died of drug overdoses in 2017 than died in the entire Vietnam War. Drug over-dose deaths are expected to remain the leading cause of death for Americans under 50."

Jill Shackner, Caitlin Cohn, Lydia Grace Jordan.

Lucas tackles the subject through three drug-addicted college age women, their distraught mothers, a sincere Reverend who, as a former addict, does her best to help, and a slippery and seductive male character called the Demon, who represents addiction. He brought to mind the Devil in "Damn Yankees" - hovering, sensing and then taking advantage of the addicts' weaknesses, including the alcoholic mother of one of the girls. The set was cleverly designed to depict three sites: the girls' college room, a hospital, and the recovery center, presided over by the Reverend.

The play was presented in many short scenes - interactions between the young women, scenes with just the mothers, individuals and groups with the Reverend, individuals with the Demon - all variety of interactions. The playwright has obviously thought about the problem of addiction from many angles and has much to say. Scenes depicted the young ladies talking about what drove them to their addictions: insecurity, feeling unloved, and their desires to stop. The mothers speak to one another, and to the Reverend, about their difficulties - their struggles to help their daughters, with the exception of the alcoholic mother who is in denial about her daughter's addiction as well as her own.

Brian Childers, Anna Bergman.
In the end, one of the girls has died of an overdose, her alcoholic mother, filled with guilt, has faced her problem and is in recovery, and the two girls are also in recovery, The Demon, however, is ever present, always ready to seize an opportunity to win them back. The play ends with each cast member reciting, I assumed, names of individuals who lost their battles with addiction.
Kathleen Mary Carthy.

Though the many short scenes became a little dizzying at times, the playwright's goal was realized: to show the agony and heartbreak of all participants - the mothers who seek counseling, who try every way they can to help their children, who sometimes even want to give up in despair; the addicts who want to quit but lack the strength to do so; the lure of returning to an old destructive habit; the Reverend who does her best to help but demonstrates even her own day to day need to overcome the addiction.

The play isn't about a cheery subject, but it acquits itself handsomely in the difficult task of showing what a nightmare it is to battle addiction. Stephan Morrow did a beautiful job of directing a convincing cast that worked well as an ensemble. I can't say enough in praise of these splendid and appealing actors.

Ms. Lucas' daughter, the inspiration of this play, is now an outspoken advocate on issues of drug dependency. She will appear with her mother in a talk back after the show on October 27. She is presently earning a Masters in Social Work and plans a career in serving others who are touched by addiction.


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