Confession: I landed late to the opening night of Domesticated on Monday evening this week at LCT's Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater. Did I consider this a bad sign for what lay ahead for the evening? Not a bit. To employ the language of the playwright upstairs in the Beaumont, I decided to defy augury. And I was immediately rewarded. For no sooner did I enter the lobby of the Newhouse during intermission than I quite literally bumped into a household name. I lapsed into fanspeak. "Are you Chris Rock?" I asked the man I'd brushed. "Who wants to know?" he replied, laughing his wonderful trademark "heh, heh" laugh.
Rock and castmates from the recent Broadway hit "The Motherf**cker with the Hat" - Bobby Cannavale and Yul Vasquez - had turned out to support Anna D. Shapiro, their director on that occasion and the director ofDomesticated. She and Rock had clearly hit it off during that collaboration, because when I brushed by their table at the after-show party at P.J. Clarke's, across the street from Lincoln Center, they were deep in conversation - and laughing heartily.
The joint was jumping with the motherf**ckers and plenty of other actors, a group also including David Schwimmer and Jimmy Smits. The buffet included chicken and salmon and the restaurant's trademark creamed spinach, but the oyster bar seemed throughout the night to be doing a brisker trade. I must confess that I didn't partake, having just seen the arthouse hitBlue Is The Warmest Color, in which one of the young Frenchwomen gives the other a master class in the swallowing of oysters. Molluscs for me currently have non-culinary meanings.
Animals and sex are also ingeniously combined in Domesticated itself, with the play's pubescent Cassidy, portrayed by Misha Seo, narrating film loops of various mating habits. Seo is an 8th grader at Roosevelt School in Roosevelt, NJ - I forgot to ask her if she was taking the day off from class to recuperate from the opening-night festivities.
Seo looked lovely at the party, but then so did everyone from the eleven-person cast, in which only Jeff Goldblum plays a man. It is always a bit of a shock to me to see actors changed out of their costumes into party dresses and duds. I've been chatting with them up-close for weeks backstage, but in those situations they are rarely in normal make-up. No matter how painted their faces, the actors radiated color and conviviality at P.J. Clarke's -- regardless of whether they had slurped down shellfish.
Brendan Lemon is the American theater critic for the Financial Times and the editor of lemonwade.com