Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

July 9, 2015


Williamstown Theatre Festival, Williamstown, MA
through July 12, 2015
by Bernadette Johnson

It’s a rare treat to experience the world premiere of a play that leaves you with the gut feeling that “This one is going to make it big.” If the spontaneous and immediate standing ovation is any indication, such a play is Daniel Goldfarb’s “Legacy,” a comedy/drama starring Tony Award-nominee Jessica Hecht and Drama Desk Award-winner Eric Bogosian.

"Legacy" in rehearsal
It’s all about legacy, the struggle to give meaning to existence when the bedrock life has been built upon crumbles. As the play opens, a dispirited novelist, Neil (Bogosian), whose latest work has been dismissed by the New York Times as “culturally irrelevant,” spews a diatribe against critics in general, and, labeling himself a failure as a writer, proposes to his wife Suzanne (Hecht) that they try to start a family. When Suzanne has difficulty conceiving, Neil’s graduate student Heart (Halley Feiffer), with whom Suzanne has developed a friendship, is recruited as a surrogate.

Casting is exceptional, Bogosian and Hecht convincingly portraying the couple’s anticipation/awkwardness/angst and a vivacious Feiffer initially exuding youthful confidence and, ultimately, the confusion and dismay of Heart’s involvement. 

Justin Long’s offhand and in-your-face manner as Dr. Goodman, a fertility specialist—no bedside manner here—adds much delightful humor, as do many one-liners.

Dane Laffrey’s set is versatile, at first, Neil and Suzanne’s living room and bedroom, and with just a few shifts and Justin Townsend’s “sterile” lighting, the living room becomes Dr. Goodman’s office and the bedroom, the examining room. The immediacy of the examining room heightens the tension the audience feels. There is a most poignant moment with Heart, Neil and Dr. Goodman when the tension is palpable, when it seems the entire audience is holding its breath.  

“Legacy” touches on controversial subjects—abortion for one—and some may be offended by banter that makes light of Holocaust survivors. This reviewer didn’t feel comfortable laughing. Eric and Suzanne are Jewish, yet …. Is this disrespect or is it OK in the same way it’s OK for a black man to use the “N word”?