The Internet Theater Magazine of Reviews, Features, Annotated Listings







Etcetera and
Short Term Listings


NYC Restaurants


New Jersey







Free Updates
A CurtainUp Berkshire Review
I Saw My Neighbor on the Train and I Didn't Even Smile

Of course I want you to be happy— Daphne

Then why do you go out of your way to make my life miserable?— Rebecca
I Saw My Neighbor

L to R: Linda Gehringer, (rear) Ariana Venturi and Keira Naughton (Photo by Michelle McGrady)
Suzanne Heathcote's new play, I Saw My Neighbor on the Train and I Didn't Even Smile, now premiering at the Berkshire Theatre Group's intimate Unicorn Theatre certainly has the longest title of any play I've seen this summer. It's also the first play on any stage that has several characters smoking electric cigarettes.

But don't let that unwieldy title fool you, or allow yourself to be put off by the fact that this is yet another addition to the much done dysfunctional drama genre. The play's British born young author has captured the voice of contemporary Midwestern Americana.

As directed by Jackson Gay, Heathcote's both funny and touching story unfolds in 15 briskly paced scenes and makes for an auspicious collaboration between the venerable BTG and a fledgling company, New Neighborhood. To make this apt marriage of a long established company and one just starting out even more meaningful, is that its director and three main characters are also women, as is BTG's chief, Kate Maguire.

There actually is a neighbor who forty-something Rebecca (Keira Naughton) meets on the train each morning without exchanging a smile or a simple "hello." He's just one example of her inability to have developed a go-somewhere relationship with anyone —except her dog, who's death a year earlier she still mourns.

Rebecca is represents the middle generation of the play's three focal women. There's her acerbic, hard-drinking mother Daphne (Linda Gehringer) close to whom she still lives. According to her never seen therapist the mother and daughter have unhealthy co-dependent relationship.

Rebecca's seeing a therapist indicates that she knows that she needs help to break the cycle of her unfulfilled existence, that has its roots in her parents' messy marriage. However, as the play opens with Rebecca's very much dysfunctional brother Jamie (Andrew Rothenberg), it quickly, and amusingly, becomes clear that his neediness will once again prevail over the therapist's advice to put her own needs first.

It seems Jamie, who apparently shows up whenever he needs help with his messy personal and financial circumstances. Sure enough, he's in trouble again. Just as he's about to embark on another marriage, a scandal involving his 15-year-old daughter Sadie (Ariana Venturi) erupts. Seem Sadie's phone created porno app went viral and so her mother in California, unable to deal with the scandal, has shipped her off to live with her father. And so, unless Rebecca agrees to take in the niece she doesn't really know, no honeymoon for Jamie — especially since Sadie and Fiona (the unseen new love of his life) don't like each other.

In the scenes that follows we see the gradually evolving fraught and difficult kinship bonds develop between Sadie, Rebecca and Daphne. Sadie no more wants to be with her aunt and grandmother than they are eager to have her. But as Rebecca has been emotionally crippled by her tumultuous early family life, so has Sadie. Her porno adventure was a plea for attention from her absent father. And even as she and Rebecca become better acquainted, she refuses to replace her California outfits for more suitable to the wintry Midwest weather.

Sadie's introducing her aunt to social networking via a cell phone brings new complexities to the plot. But Sadie's not just a rebellious, aggressively sexy teen, but something of a math wiz. This introduces a non-familial character into the mix. That's Eric (Adam Langdon), a nerdy fellow student at the high school in which she's been enrolled. Eric who understands what being lonely and friendless, as well as wonderfully realistic ending which admirably avoids going into either soppy all's well that ends well or melodramatic tragedy.

As she did with Lucy Thurber's Hilltown plays, a few seasons ago introduced as a marathon collection by Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, Jackson Gay has nurtured Heathcote's natural and sharp dialogue by fostering sympathetic performances from the entire ensemble. Though Gehringer's Daphne gets the funniest lines, Naughton's Rebecca and Venturi's sullen Sadie are fully deimensiond and Langdon's Eric wonderfully endearing.

True to the playwright's expressed wishes in the script notes, Ms. Gay has arranged for the various shifts in locations (the diner, Rebecca's apartment, the local school, Rebecca chauffeuring her mother and niece in a mini-van) to take place with a few rolled on and off stage set piece by Paul Whitaker, enhanced with some atmospheric projections by Nicholas Hussong against a back wall apartment house image. Having composer Ryan Kattner's incidental music performed right on stage by pianist Daniel O'Connell is a nice touch.

The intimacy of the Unicorn theater gives every audience member a chance to get fully engaged with these ordinary, but worth knowing characters.

I Saw My Neighbor On the Train and I Didn't Even Smile by Suzanne Heathcote Directed by Jackson Gay Cast: Linda Gehringer (Daphne), Adam Langdon (Eric), Keira Naughton (Rebecca), Adam O'Byrne (Steve), Andrew Rothenberg (Jamie) and Ariana Venturi (Sadie).
Composer: Ryan Kattner
Scenic and lighting design: Paul Whitaker
Costumes: Jessica Ford
Sound: Broken Chord
Projections: Nicholas Hussong
Dramaturg: by Catherine Sheehy
Stage Manager: Laura Wilson Running Time: 1 Hour and 40 minutes without an intermission
Co-production with New Neighborhood at Berkshire theater Group at The Unicorn Theatre, Stockbridge
From 7/16/15; opening 7/18/15; closing 8/15/17
Tickets $42, preopening; then $50
Reviewed by Elyse Sommer at 7/18 press opening
Highlight one of the responses below and click "copy" or"CTRL+C"
  • I agree with the review of I Saw My Neighbor on the Train and I Didn't Even Smile
  • I disagree with the review of I Saw My Neighbor on the Train and I Didn't Even Smile
  • The review made me eager to see I Saw My Neighbor on the Train and I Didn't Even Smile
Click on the address link E-mail:
Paste the highlighted text into the subject line (CTRL+ V):

Feel free to add detailed comments in the body of the email. . .also the names and emails of any friends to whom you'd like us to forward a copy of this review.

For a feed to reviews and features as they are posted add to your reader
Curtainup at Facebook . . . Curtainup at Twitter
Subscribe to our FREE email updates: E-mail:
put SUBSCRIBE CURTAINUP EMAIL UPDATE in the subject line and your full name and email address in the body of the message. If you can spare a minute, tell us how you came to CurtainUp and from what part of the country.
The New Similes Dictionary

©Copyright 2015, Elyse Sommer.
Information from this site may not be reproduced in print or online without specific permission from