For most people, the thought of spending their golden years in a nursing facility brings an overwhelming sense of dread. After all, in such a stifling environment, there isn’t much to do but sit around, play cards, listen to one another complain about the food and personal ailments (provided the hearing aids are intact) , and wait for a knock on the door from the man with the hooded black cloak. For the residents of a Jewish Nursing Home in the Bronx, there is a livelier alternative. In Richard Abrons’ off Broadway play, Every Day a Visitor, this alternative is a world of imagination. Instead of living a painfully drab existence, these spirited seniors decide to take on personas of well known political figures to “role play” themselves into a happier state of mind. While it doesn’t eliminate their realities, it certainly alleviates the monotony of their day to day routines. From Mayor LaGuardia to Bella Abzug, Henry Kissinger to Golda Meir, new dialogues are created and eventually, this all too often forgotten sect of society is reinvigorated.
It is refreshing to see a show that both illuminates and empowers the elderly. Usually, they become stereotyped and neglected by a youth obsessed media driven by beauty and botox. Here, we meet older individuals who realize that, while circumstances may not change, self-perception and self-respect can be altered. While it seems like fortune cookie wisdom, it is a gentle reminder for young and old alike
Unlike other quality works of entertainment that have paved paths for the aging (Recall TVs classic Golden Girls and Ron Howard’s 1985 film Cocoon) Every Day a Visitor has a scarcity of laugh out loud moments. Yet it succeeds in holding a continuous smile. The didactic script can sometimes feel more like a lecture and less like a night at the theater. Perhaps to the great delight of these veteran actors, some of the cast appear to be too spritely to be among the downtrodden and feeble. But under Margaret Perry’s sound direction, Every Day A Vistor takes a maudlin notion and turns it into a breezy, yet poignant piece of accessible theater.
Every Day A Visitor plays off-Broadway at Clurman Theater on Theater Row (410 W. 42nd between 9th and 10th) Now playing through Dec. 14th. Tickets available at the box office, online, . https://www.telecharge.com/Off-Broadway/Every-Day-a-Visitor/Overview?AID=AFF000022800&cm_mmc=Maxamoo-_-affiliate-_-web-_-AFF000022800 or by phone: 212-239-6200