|L-R: Gordon Clapp and Jenni Putney in TRICK OR TREAT. Photo by Heidi Bohnenkamp.|
Every family has its secrets and the Moynihans certainly are no exception. What is going on between Johnny Moynihan (Gordon Clapp) and Nancy (Kathy Manfre), his wife of more than 40 years, now that her Alzheimer’s disease is worsening? What transpired between Johnny’s son, Teddy (David Mason) and Johnny’s neighbor, Hannah (Kathy McCafferty), years ago that ended Teddy and Hannah’s romantic relationship - and did Johnny have anything to do with it? Who is Sharon - and what has become of her?
Johnny and Nancy have kept the family’s secrets for years but now that Nancy’s Alzheimer’s has worsened, can she still be relied on to do so? Claire (Jenni Putney), who is Johnny and Nancy’s daughter and Danny’s sister, never was privy to the family’s secrets herself but that’s all about to change tonight. It is Halloween and Claire has just received a tearful call from her father imploring her to come to his house right away where all eventually wiil be revealed.
Teddy, as it turns out, is a cop, a police captain in fact and in line to become the next Chief of Police, an appointment that would delight Johnny since Teddy would be following in the footsteps of Johnny’s own father who once had held that post. But Teddy’s appointment is far from certain. For one thing, Claire’s influential husband, Sal, who publishes the town paper, vehemently opposes it. Moreover, some in the town continue to hold Danny responsible for the “murder” of Normie Beauchamp, despite the fact that Danny was acquitted of all charges in that incident. Additionally, that “bitch” Hannah still has it in for him. And, finally, should the secret surrounding Sharon be disclosed, it could mark the end of Danny’s career.
Trick or Treat by Jack Neary is an exceptionally well-written play – a family drama, a mystery, and a black comedy all in one – currently enjoying its New York premiere at 59E59 Theaters on East 59th Street in midtown Manhattan. Neary’s ear for dialogue is terrific but that’s not all the play has going for it: it also has been blessed with a truly extraordinary cast.
David Mason is tough, bitter and menacing as Johnny’s son, Teddy, while Jenni Putney conveys an equally convincing sense of cold, calculating objectivity, tempered by concern for both of her parents, as his daughter, Claire. Kathy McCafferty is splendid as the truly nosy, obnoxious, trouble-making “bitch,” Hannah, and Kathy Manfre is effective as Nancy, Johnny’s wife, suffering from Alzheimer’s.
But when all is said and done, the play really belongs to Gordon Clapp. His is an award-worthy performance as Johnny, a working-class stiff whose own life never measured up to that of his father and who now seeks to live his life vicariously through his son. He is a man who finds little to take pride in himself beyond the size of the candy bars he distributes to the neighborhood’s children on Halloween. But at the same time, he is a man deeply in love with his wife, Nancy, and devoted to her care who, nonetheless, places the preservation of his family (as he perceives it) above all else – including Nancy’s well-being. It is a performance that will remain with you long after you have left the theater.