Hayley Mills, the spunky juvenile star of Parent Trap and Pollyanna in the early 60s, is now playing a 70-ish, know-it-all trying to run her troubled daughter’s life in Party Face, by Irish playwright Isobel Mahon. Daughter Mollie Mae (Gina Costigan) has been abandoned by her husband, attempted suicide, been institutionalized, and is lamely attempting to throw a party in her suburban, spare Dublin apartment.
Besides mother Carmel, only a trio of guests show up: her stunning and sympathetic older sister, Maeve (Brenda Meaney); a dippy, borderline-anorexic narcissist, Chloe (Allison Jean White), and Bernie (Klea Blackhurst), an obsessive-compulsive, down-to-earth germaphobe who swaddles everything in Saran Wrap.
Allison Jean does a marvelous job in her funny and frenetic role; Klea Blackhurst, known for her impersonation of Ethel Merman, is strong yet vulnerable; Brenda Meaney is fierce and captivating; Gina Costigan makes the most of her muddlesome role, and Hayley Mills is alternatingly appealing and off putting.
Party Face has its funny and joyous moments, despite the multitude of troubles enveloping these five ladies, from philandering husbands to dysfunctional children. Each of the ladies in the energetic cast tries to put on her Party Face to convince the others that she’s got it all together. But, they only manage to find love and acceptance once they allow the truth to expose their anything-but-perfect selves.
Party Face is playing at the City Center, Stage II, 131 West 55th Street, New York, through April 8, 2018.
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