It's been a rough few weeks for playwright Bryony Lavery. Just the other week she was accused of plagarism in her Tony-nominated play from last season, Frozen. Now she has to face the critics for her new play, Last Easter.
This is the opening play of MCC Theater's new season, who are clearly hoping for a repeat of last year's great success with Frozen, having selected the same playwright's work, as well as the same director, Doug Hughes. Unfortunately, this play is highly unlikely to warrant an uptown transfer.
The play centers around a group of London theatre professionals who are close friends. Lighting designer June (Veanne Cox) has cancer, which has spread from her breast to her liver. Her friends decide to take her on a road trip to France, not mentioning that they want to take her to Lourdes, to be dipped in the holy waters there.
The first act is largely about the road trip, and then the arrival in Lourdes. Act two takes a dramatic turn. It's one year later, and June is still very sick and wants her friends to help her relieve the pain and have a dignified death.
The play moves along quickly, with able performances by Cox and co-stars Jeffrey Carlson, Jeffrey Scott Green, Florencia Lozano, and Clea Lewis. Cox, best known for her role on Broadway in Caroline Or Change is very convincing in her brave suffering. Ultimately, the writing here just doesn't deliver. For one thing, there is hardly any exposition about how these friends met. We know they worked together on some shows, but hardly any back story is provided that might create more depth in the individual characters and in their relationship as friends.
At least playwright Lavery has learned from some of her past mistakes. In the show's Playbill, works she consulted in the writing of Last Easter are very clearly credited.