William Finn and James Lapine’s revered Off-Broadway musical charts the romantic misadventures of Marvin, who has left his wife and young son for a male lover.
Good American Jew that he is, Marvin still wants to be the head of a family, however, and his attempts to orchestrate a “tight-knit” unit that requires his angry wife, confused son and uncomfortable lover to be present at the dinner table is the cause of much angst. Then there’s Trina’s blossoming relationship with Mendel, Marvin’s therapist.
That takes us to the interval. From there, the story progressively darkens. Jason’s Bar Mitzvah looms but it is Marvin who has come to the conclusion, “it’s time to grow up and face the music”. But this is 1981, and a previously unknown plague is claiming its first victims. There may less time to grow up and make peace than Marvin has bargained for.
Originally created under the spectre of the AIDS crisis, this timely musical about middle class family dynamics manages to remain buoyant and satirically perceptive even as it moves towards its heartbreaking conclusion.