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  • ‘The Assembled Parties’ Weaves a Web of Complicated Relationships

    Richard Greenberg’s touching comedy-drama “The Assembled Parties” isn’t saying much of anything new: change is constant, the universe is random, time takes its toll on all of us. Fortunately, he says it through the interactions of interesting, well-written characters dramatized with wit, insight, and boundless affection.
    The play, sensitively directed by Lynne Meadow for Manhattan Theatre Club, observes two Christmas Day celebrations in the 14-room Upper West Side apartment of agnostic Jews Julie, once a teenage film star, and Ben, the wealthy wheeler-dealer for whom she left the silver screen. In Act 1, set in 1980, the attendees consist of the feckless but charming Scotty, Julie and Ben’s just-out-of-college son; eager-to-please Jeff, his school friend who’s now studying law at Harvard; and the mismatched familial trio of ever-anxious, pill-popping Faye, Ben’s sister; her crass husband, Mort; and their aimless daughter, Shelley. Stuck in bed is 4-year-old Timmy, Scott’s younger brother, who is recovering from the flu. As the sunny, optimistic Julie cooks up a storm, Greenberg skillfully weaves a web of complicated relationships and clashing agendas.
    Act 2 leaps to the year 2000.

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