In Marshall Goldberg’s play Daddy Issues a gay man, an actor named Donald, hires a ten-year-old boy to pretend to be his son for the benefit of his family. He’s aided in this deception by two friends, a woman named Henrietta and a male buddy named Levi who has a drag act. In the play’s climactic scene Mom and Dad and Grandma come to Donald’s apartment to meet the young boy. As in all farce, the characters are no match for the situation, and we watch as comic bit by comic bit Donald is undone.
Daddy Issues has been presented by David Goldyn Productions at Theatre at St. Clement’s, off-Broadway.
Farce is a difficult and delicate form, but the show’s director, David Goldyn, masters it by keeping everything crisp and snappy. It all moves along allegretto and the pacing never flags. Everything is sharply analyzed and carefully executed.
As Donald, Matt Koplik is animated and well-defined, shouldering the bulk of the comedy. Of all the cast, he alone has that particular nervous energy that enlivens farce. The rest of the cast is serviceable, for the most part executing the broad comedy with the right amount of belief, neither too broad nor too reserved.
Kate Katcher plays Donald’s mother with a grating New York accent, but otherwise fares well. Tony Rossi and Deb Armelino, as Donald’s father and grandmother respectively, are convincing, and Shua Potter as the drag artist is entertaining. Alex Ammerman works well as the ten-year-old, concentrated and, happily, not overly cute. But Elizabeth Klein is colorless as Henrietta, and Allyson Haley flails out of control as the child’s real mother.
Whatever the talents of the cast, the vehicle the Mr. Goldyn has chosen is disappointing. The actors simply do the best they can with a mediocre script. Daddy Issues isn’t a particularly funny play; it’s merely clever. And it centers too much on its only joke, Donald’s presentation of his “son”. The other characters have no comedic problems to solve. Farce needs problems that interact with each other. Without them, the play relies on stereotypes.
Whatever its weaknesses, Daddy Issues is entertaining, and it contributes to Off-Broadway by giving us something unexpected. We’d like to see Mr. Goldyn’s farcical talents applied to a modern-day Feydeau. We’d like, in fact, to see a modern-day Feydeau on any stage. Perhaps Daddy Issues will precipitate a resurgence of farce!