The Son (Peter Friedman) is at a loss. His mother, Ida Armstrong (Deanna Dunagan) has lived longer than she expected. Her husband Ron passed away, leaving her little money and now she is experiencing dementia. Cash strapped and frustrated, the son and his siblings sacrifice their own well beings to ensure that Ida maintains her pampered lifestyle. “My friends are in the Beaverbrook and I’m a Beaverbrook person,” she tells her son. Beaverbrook it is. Nothing is too good for this manipulative matriarch in Max Posner’s The Treasurer, which recently opened at Playwrights Horizons.
Posner’s character-driven play may not be one of the fastest moving plays around, but it is certainly one of the most honest, timely, and sapient works that subtly paints a complex portrait of relationships between a mother and her children.
It is an especially relevant piece, given the harsh reality that many Americans face when it comes to aging. A recent article in the Washington Post reports that 9 million senior citizens must work to support themselves- a staggering increase from 4 million in 2000. Posner modeled the work after his own grand-mother, who “always felt she was an inadequate mother” and his father who consequently “feels he is a defective son.”
The real tragedy of this relationship is the misunderstanding of one another: Ida is oblivious to the strain she is putting on her children. The Son cannot see past her demanding demeanor. The play’s title and Friedman’s nameless character suggests that he is nothing more than a means of survival for Ida. He too, has lost his identity. Friedman and Dunagan both deliver award worthy performances here. Friedman’s painful exasperation is completely realized in every single sentence. Dunagan carries herself with subtle, waiflike movements that increase as she delves deeper into a troubled mind. Pun Bandhu and Marinda Anderson round out the cast as Ida’s other children. They also double as salespeople and random strangers who are subjected to Ida’s incessant chatter– an outlet for her deep need to be heard and appreciated.
Director David Cromer guides the production with sensitivity. He is isn’t afraid of the awkward pauses and contemplation that his actors so wisely give to this material.
The Treasurer opened at Playwrights Horizons (42nd between 9th and 10th) on September 6th and has been extended through November 5th. For tickets and information, visit https://www.playwrightshorizons.org/shows/plays/treasurer/