Tuesday, April 2, 2019

199 (2018-2019): Review: ACCIDENTALLY BRAVE (seen April 1, 2019)

"His Dirty Little Secret"

Imagine you’re a “well-knownish” actress, married, with twin sons and a daughter, and still in love with your husband of two decades, himself a successful actor and film/TV director. Your bedroom relationship may have cooled off but not enough to block you thinking of him as a terrific dad and spouse, your “friend and confidante and true-blue love.”
Maddie Corman. Photo: Jeremy Daniel.
Then, boom, when your Westchester life couldn’t be rosier, you’re driving to a TV studio in Brooklyn for an acting gig when you get a hysterical call from your daughter that the cops have come to your house and are taking daddy away!
Maddie Corman. Photo: Jeremy Daniel.
That’s the fulcrum for this one-woman, self-described “inspiring true story,” of what happened to Maddie Corman (Some Kind of Wonderful) after she learned four years ago of her husband’s dirty little secret; you can read up on it in this recent New York Times account. He—unnamed in the show—is Jace Alexander (son of the distinguished actress Jane Alexander), who was convicted in 2016 of downloading and sharing child pornography.
Maddie Corman. Photo: Jeremy Daniel.
Sometimes one wonders how anyone living a normal life, celebrity or not, recovers from learning that a beloved spouse or child has been doing horrible things (violent, financial, sexual, or otherwise) and will possibly be taken from them. Corman’s confessional show, partly self-therapy and partly inspirational exposé for those with related problems, is a humdinger, not so much because of the sensationalism of its subject matter but for the engagingly performative way she addresses and relates her tale.
Maddie Corman. Photo: Jeremy Daniel.
Corman is 49, blonde, and enviously slim (she often refers to herself as “skinny”) in her tight-fitting jeans and white t-shirt (sometimes covered by a stylish, loose, gray sweater). She moves like a dancer on Jo Winiarski’s setting of a sparsely furnished stage, dominated at center by an orange office-chair.
Maddie Corman. Photo: Jeremy Daniel.
Behind her is a neutral, semicircular backdrop on which Elaine J. McCarthy’s still and video projections are displayed, many depicting Corman and her spouse. This tightly packaged work, lovingly lit by Jamie Roderick, and including gestures perfectly timed to Bart Fasbender’s clever sound design, is overseen by the nicely-paced direction of Kristin Hanggi (Rock of Ages­).
Maddie Corman. Photo: Jeremy Daniel.
Accidentally Brave tells Corman's story (“her story,” she emphasizes, not her husband’s, which is his to tell) chronologically, with projections informing us how much time has passed in the proceedings. We learn about her husband’s legal issues, the outpouring of sympathy and disgust he incited in news and social media, and both his rehabilitation at an Arizona center for addiction problems and the rehab he had to undergo with his family, with whom he still lives (albeit registered as a sex offender).

Along the way, Corman, who continues to struggle daily with her issues, discovers that she’s something she never had any intention of being—brave.
Maddie Corman. Photo: Jereemy Daniel.
Corman’s a very talented actress with a perkily friendly, accessible personality. She’s capable of radically altering her somewhat high-pitched, mildly raspy voice to suggest other persons, like the famous stranger (unnamed) who, when everyone and her sister were unable to offer meaningful advice, reached out like a guardian angel to say just the right things. Corman has the chameleonic skills to spark warm laughter, to make her eyes well with tears, and to plunge into terrifying anger. Several moments are as overpoweringly expressive as anything on a New York stage.

Corman alludes to the difficulties of dealing with addiction, sexual and otherwise, but is mainly concerned with portraying her personal reaction to her husband’s sickness, an experience from which you’re invited to take away whatever value it may have for you and your loved ones.

While some preachments are implicit in it, the show’s never preachy. Here’s hoping, though, you won’t one day find yourself needing to be accidentally brave.

DR2 Theatre
103 E. 15th St., NYC
Through July 14