Winnie Holzman, the creator of My So-Called Life and the book writer for the mega-musical Wicked, has a new play with the Huntington Theater Company called Choice, which follows journalist Zippy Zunder as she chases a story that forces her to revisit difficult choices from her past. It stars Johanna Day, who garnered a Tony nomination for her work in Proof.
Should you see it or skip it? Here are the five best arguments on either side.
Choice is funny. Holzman can craft a jokey exchange, running gag, and an absurd and hilarious situation. Choice doesn’t aim to be funny throughout, but more than half the play feels like a really good, smart comedy.
When the jokes end — and they do — there’s a gripping, intelligent exploration of a brutally tough topic. The choice referred to in the title is abortion. The lead character had an abortion two and a half decades before the action in the play, but she’s still dealing with the psychological ramifications. While the play’s politics are unapologetically pro-choice, Holzman isn’t afraid to raise the most formidable questions advocates of reproductive choice have to grapple with.
This is a strong cast. Day stars as Zunder, a middle-aged journalist dealing with intense guilt and shame as she examines the decisions she made long ago. The production revolves around Day-—she’s part of almost every conversation. And she’s more than capable of grounding the comedic and dramatic scenes. The other four cast members are solid and excel in the funnier moments.
Women over 40 don’t get many decent parts—especially in movies. Anne Hathaway was only the latest to complain about the lack of good roles (or any roles at all) for women over 30. Choice proves that this situation does a great disservice to audiences, as well. Choice has two great parts for middle-aged women. They’re funny, smart, and interesting as heck. When you see the play, you realize how much we’re missing by not seeing more stories about women who have longer and more complex histories.
Choice could have been shorter. This is a strong play, but there were some slower moments in the first act that could have been cut. The second act had a couple of attempts at comedy that were awkward and unnecessary.
The verdict: SEE IT!
Choice will be at the Calderwood Pavilion through November 15.
Photo courtesy of The Hungtington Theater.