Pipe Dreams

The truth shines out of Nicole Blaine's heartfelt story, and she tells it with humor, passion, dazzling charm, and a naturalness that many actors, or even civilians, would kill for. Written in cooperation with director/husband Mickey Blaine, the solo play tells an unsparing tale of a young girl's coming of age in the shadow of her mother's crack addiction. The upscale Jewish mother--a successful lawyer and a wise and supportive parent--falls apart after divorcing her high school sweetheart, whom she has outgrown and who has become an embarrassment to her lifestyle. Life for Nicole and her younger brother is put on the line when abusive Scary Larry moves in with his porn collection and his infectious disease: crack addiction. Dropping out of school to save her brother's life, her mother's, and possibly her own, Nicole, with an indomitable will and the help of boyfriend Mickey Miller--a thinly disguised Blaine--makes it all the way through to the victory lap.

We first meet Nicole as a little girl as she listens to her father's bedtime stories. We then travel through her cute and cuddly adolescence and freshman year at college. Blaine is delightful in performance, physically funny and likeable, in a pleasantly familiar tale. After intermission, however, laugh-a-minute comedy suddenly becomes horror as the depth of Nicole's mother's sickness and addiction to the drug, and to Larry, become life-and-death issues for the family. The stream-of-consciousness writing does not lend itself to a perceptible dramatic arc; slavish, albeit admirable, adherence to the truth leaves the play nowhere to go but on and on. Mother self-destructively falls on and off the crack wagon, and in and out of her abusive relationship, and an out-of-character sentimentality and preachiness inexorably creep into the desperate search for a curtain line.

An old expression says, "Never let the truth stand in the way of a good story." Nicole's experience is a good story, and it's obviously and painfully true, but, apart from being too long at two acts, it needs tighter structuring to make it into a good play.