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The Moonlight Room

Presented by the Worth Street Theater Company and Solecist Prdns, casting consultant Jordan Beswick, at Tribeca Playhouse, 111 Reade St., NYC, Nov. 3-Dec. 7.

A smart, stark piece about the perils of growing up in Manhattan, "The Moonlight Room" depicts the inner-city middle-class family as a unit of struggle and potential tragedy.

The setting is the waiting room in a hospital, where Sal, a depressive young woman, and Josh, a ragged young man, wait to find out whether their friend Lightfield's drug overdose has been fatal. While waiting, there is much chatter between the somewhat flirtatious pair, some quite penetrating, all of it believable. After some time, Sal's mother visits, and then Lightfield's father visits, with Adam, Josh's stepbrother, making an appearance as well.

It's the kind of play where virtually all the tension is created by impending doom and, as a result, the events unfold slowly. Author Tristine Skyler's flair for detailed characterization, however, keeps the play on track. After a while, it turns out that Josh is at least partly responsible for Lightfield's overdose. He then finds himself subject to severe verbal abuse at the hands of the parental figures and leaves the room, only to meet up with his own severe difficulties afterward.

Jeff Cohen's direction gives the actors plenty of time to listen and work the nuances of the characters. Brendan Sexton III (Josh), who has been very impressive in several film roles, shows here that he can act just as well on stage. Sexton's Josh is real—sympathetic and pathetic at the same time. Laura Breckenridge is a fine foil to Sexton as Sal. Kathryn Layng is excellent as Sal's mom, seeming quite like the prototypical Manhattan public school parent. Lawrence James is powerful as Lightfield's dad. And Mark Rosenthal (Adam), who I haven't seen on stage since his turn in Kenneth Lonergan's "This Is Our Youth," proves again he is able to balance whimsy and emotion, and add flair to the mix as well.

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