Although Blythe Danner, the mother of Gwyneth Paltrow and director Jake Paltrow, is widely known for her roles in Meet the Parents and Will & Grace, she has performed in numerous theatrical productions in her past. Danner now heads the bill along with Sarah Jessica Parker in a play written by actress Amanda Peet entitled, The Commons of Pensacola.
According to the Manhattan Theatre Club,The Commons of Pensacola is an “uncommon family drama” that revolves around estranged wife Judith, played by Blythe Danner, and Sarah Jessica Parker’s portrayal as her daughter Becca. They, along with other members of the family, deal with the aftermath of a financial scandal involving Judith’s husband and Becca’s father. Judith carries the heaviest burden of the public disgrace, and is reduced to a one-room retirement condo with none of her former possessions in Pensacola, Florida.
Judith maintains her dignity throughout, while dealing with an actress daughter close to burn-out along with additional strain from other family members. The Commons of Pensacola is set as a moody tragicomedy with heavy dialogue.
Reviews so far of The Commons of Pensacola have been less than favorable, (The New York Times theater critic was among those who bristled at the flatulence jokes “forced upon” Blythe Danner) and the general opinion seem to be that acting expertise of Blythe Danner and Sarah Jessica Parker are the only saving grace of the play.
There is a question, however, of if critics hold Blythe Danner in such high esteem that its strange to see her play characters that have a bit more of a brasher dialogue.
The Commons of Pensacola runs through January 26 at the City Center Stage I in Manhattan.