Friday, December 24, 2010

Review by Irv Rikon: GOLDIE, MAX AND MILK at Florida Stage



Let's say this for Goldie, Max and Milk: The World Premiere Play by Karen Hartman currently at FLORIDA STAGE in its new KRAVIS CENTER home has subject matter as contemporary as one gets in the American theater.

Max (Erin Joy Schmidt) is a single mother, a Brooklyn, New York lesbian who has just given birth and is having trouble nursing. (That's "milk".) The hospital arranges for Goldie (Deborah Sherman) to advise her. Goldie is an "Orthodox Jewish lactation specialist," (something I confess I never knew existed until I saw this play.) Max is unemployed. Her house is falling apart. Her ex-lover, Lisa, (Carla Harting) has left her, having decided she wants to go "straight". Lisa's brother Mike, who earns his living by selling illegal drugs, (David Hemphill) has fathered Max's baby. Goldie, meanwhile, has a daughter, Shayna (Sarah Lord,) who is tempted both by Max and her life-style and the substance sold by Mike.

Obviously, the opportunity for conflict in this play is almost everywhere. The playwright and Director Margaret Ledford emphasize the conservative perspective by having Goldie be as strict, stern and disapproving as she can be. The liberal view has Lisa returning and stressing that she still feels strong love for Max (and her newborn.) Plus, young Shayna has a predisposition for Max and Mike's wares.

This is a curious play that will surely have both supporters and detractors. (I liked it for what it is, a portayal of life in one segment of society. My Significant Other did not.) My principal objection, and it's rather a strong one, is that the Jewish woman is portrayed as being totally inflexible, making her seem at all times unsympathetic. (She could as easily have been a Catholic or Protestant woman. Max, Lisa and Mike are Christian.) How or why Goldie's daughter came to be what she is also deserves further description from the playwright. (Do teenagers just walk into a stranger's home and immediately adapt to this new, totally different environment?) In fact, none of the characters are sufficiently fleshed out. This is at bottom a television soap opera or situation comedy, an installment of which will have some viewers anxiously awaiting the next episode and others switching to another channel. A word of caution: The play, which is well produced, is for mature adults.

Closing date is January 16. The 5th Annual 1st Stage New Works Festival, readings of some carefully chosen playscripts written by contemporary writers, takes place February 3 - 6. Ghost-Writer, a new play by Michael Hollinger, concerning the questionable authorship of a great new novel, runs March 2 - April 3. For tickets and additional information telephone 585-3433 or online:

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