Mr. Parker

Here’s why GenX shouldn’t date Millennials, periodt.

By Andrew Andrews

Derek Smith and Davi Santos in Penguin Rep’s production of Michael McKeever’s Mr. Parker , directed by Joe Brancato at Theatre Row in Hell’s Kitchen. Original photos by John Quilty.

Seven short months ago, 54-year-old Terrance Parker signed the orders to end life support for his husband Jeffrey, following a car accident on the West Side Highway that left the accomplished painter and photographer all but dead.

Now Terry is standing in Jeffrey’s old studio apartment in the East Village, which they never gave up after moving uptown to The Ansonia many, many years ago.

Also standing in the studio is… Kevin? Very naked and much, much younger than Terry.

“Kevin” is actually Justin, the bartender from the widower’s first night out alone since he stopped being the second half of “Jeff & Terry.”

Now the older man wants the younger to disappear, but the latter wants to stay and spend the day together. Justin claims to really like Terry, but Terry is still trying to make sense of it all.

After meeting each other repeatedly over the following weeks, Justin is content with non-commitment, but despite burgeoning generational differences and warnings from Jeffrey’s sister Cassie, it looks like Terry might be starting to view this rebound relationship as something more promising.

Derek Smith and Mia Matthews on the set designed by David Goldstein.

Funny, isn’t it, how sometimes you can see a great performance coming before the house lights even go down?

From the moment you slip your phone into the Yondr bag, you at least know you won’t have to deal with the distraction of your neighbor’s shiny screen glaring during the performance.

From the second you sit down and take in the perfect rendition of a fifth-floor studio walkup on the stage before you, you at least know that the production company cares enough about setting a convincing scene.

Then the show begins like the first few frames of an art house film, with a short orchestral buildup and a monologue by Mr. Parker himself, and you just know from the opening scene that you’re in for a good story, well-delivered.

Of course, I already had an idea that the production value of this performance was going to be high, based on my recent review of Penguin Rep’s I and You at their barn in Stony Point. But while I didn’t care quite as much for that script, this one hooked me very early and held me on the line to the end.

That’s not to say there’s anything innovative, or even unusual, about this story: anyone who’s found themselves on the flip-side of a long term relationship (or been close to someone who has) can understand what Mr. Parker is going through.

Anyone who’s tried to bridge an age difference of more than a few years to make a relationship work can relate, and anyone who’s witnessed it from the sidelines can see the signs that it isn’t going to stand the test of time.

What makes this story so compelling is that it’s just so gosh-darn believable, in that “don’t make me say ‘I told you so’” kind of way.

Of course, a good script in the hands of a bunch of amateurs can only go so far. Fortunately, the actors and crew for this production have all the expertise needed for its flawless execution, with perfectly-cast thespians under the guidance of a skilled director, and masterful designers and operators supporting the talent.

BTW: those Yondr bags? They actually tie into the story, but I won’t say any more about that.

I do think $55.50 is a high ticket price for a three-person cast in an off-off-Broadway performance, but all things considered, it’s not what I’d call extortion—maybe more like an extravagance. If you’re willing to pay top-dollar for a top-quality performance, then by all means, splurge. You won’t be disappointed!

5

Andrew Andrews attended Mr. Parker at Theatre Row Theatre One in Manhattan on Thursday, June 2, 2022 @ 7:00pm to write this review.