Local flavor abounds in GSC’s ‘Auld Lang Syne’
GLOUCESTER — Hey, Honeydew Donuts, move over. I got your local flavor right here.
There will be no faking or fudging of Boston accents — as is often the case when it comes to films, TV or plays set in Boston — during the Gloucester Theatre Company’s run of Jack Neary’s “Auld Lang Syne” at the Gorton Theatre through July 27.
That’s because the two parts in the piece are being performed by two of Greater Boston’s best-known and beloved actors — the husband-wife team of Paula Plum and Richard Snee, in a play written by Lowell native Neary.
I can imagine Neary doing a little jig when he first learned that his play was being performed at the well-regarded, award-winning GSC and that Plum and Snee had been cast in the roles.
I’m sure I had seen him perform several times before, but my first best recollection of Snee came as he played a variety of roles — including Richard Nixon — in Gip Hoppe’s manic, mirthful “Jackie: An American Life,” during its run at the Wilbur Theatre.
His versatility is one of his strongest points as an actor, and here he shows it again as Joe LaCedra, a small-time Southie hood trying to claw his way back to a rather peculiar definition of “respectability” after years as a low-level enforcer
In “Auld Lang Syne,“ it’s 9 p.m. on a snowy New Year’s Eve in an old home in South Boston.
Plum is Mary Antonelli, a retired teacher who has been marking time since the death of first her child and, later, her husband, who has been gone for 17 years.
She has obtained the cell phone number of LaCedra, and the piece opens with LaCedra (Snee) banging on her door, demanding to know first why she called him and then how she got his cell phone number.
Joe should remember Mary, it turns out, but doesn’t, from their shared time at Gate of Heaven Elementary School
She has $67,000 in cash — her entire life’s savings — and she’s willing to fork it all over if he does the right thing and puts her out of her misery by midnight.
On her husband’s deathbed, she promised she would rejoin him on their 30th anniversary
To fulfill her promise, Mary has to be dead by midnight, and she figures Joe is just the guy to do it.
If this is the type of work that Joe does — and he doesn’t admit it is — he’s pretty sure this isn’t the type of job he really wants.
In this case, Snee has the showier of the two parts as LaCedra, who’s basically an errand boy for the criminal element in the neighborhood.
LaCedra is damaged goods, big-time. He drank his way out of a secure job with the city 15 years ago and had to get down on his knees to get this menial position.
His ex-wife and kids barely acknowledge his existence and he has virtually no contact with his grandkids — he’s a loser with nothing left to lose.
Plum’s Mary has led an orderly, quiet existence, preferring to drift into the background as a lonely widow. But she has standards, and doesn’t want to be killed “by someone who’s mad at me.”
Neary’s piece is in good hands with these two old pros as two sad souls trying to make sense of it all and how things ended up the way they did, and how they found themselves in such strange circumstances
Director Douglas Lockwood has things steered in the right direction, but you do get the sense that the ship could sail itself if it had to.
“Auld Lang Syne” moves fitfully among several genres — comedy, drama, thriller — to its denouement, and I do believe Neary telegraphs his punch at the end, although you may not see it coming.
It really doesn’t matter, because in “Auld Lang Syne” it’s about the journey taken by two fine actors that counts.
The Gloucester Stage Company production of Jack Neary’s “Auld Lang Syne.” Directed by Douglas Lockwood. At the Gorton Theatre through July 27. http://www.gloucesterstage.org.