Theater Review: ‘Daddy’ at Pershing Square Signature Center

Poolside seats for "Daddy"

By Jonathan Spira on 19 March 2019
  • Share

Few plays make as much of a splash on Broadway or Off-Broadway as “Daddy” has, a coproduction of the New Group and the Vineyard Theater.

The reason for the splash isn’t necessarily what one might assume: rather, it’s due to the presence of an aptly-named infinity pool fronting Matt Saunders’ exquisite recreation of a Bel Air mansion. Members of the cast jump in with alarming frequency (alarming to the first three or four rows of theatergoers in particular, as only the first row was apparently outfitted with raingear) when there is nothing deep or insightful to otherwise say or do.

Don’t get me wrong: “Daddy” is a powerful play and, with a runtime of almost three hours and two intermissions, documents how Andre (Alan Cumming) assimilates Franklin (Ronald Peet) into a kind of human doll, something the freakishly large human dolls sewn by Franklin underscore.


With Andre as the daddy, Franklin has moved into the house – one so large that Andre is puzzled as to which direction to go in to the many off-stage rooms to fetch something) – and set up his studio where he is making little black dolls for his gallery debut.

There are visitors, at least for Franklin. His friends Max (Tommy Dorfman) and Bellamy (Kahyun Kim), the gallery owner Alessia (Hari Nef), whose transformation is rather frightening, and Franklin’s church-going Bible-quoting mother, Zora (a rather formidable Charlayne Woodard), whose presence appears to be a counter to the drug-induced haze of the other characters.

“Daddy” is at its best when Mr. Cumming gives the audience what may perhaps be the creepiest performance of the George Michaels hit “Father Figure” yet, holding a hand microphone swaying in the pool with an eerie gospel choir as backup.

Where it’s at its worst is the play’s sheer length: Jeremy Harris reportedly used “Daddy” as part of his application to get into Yale. I hope that he is learning how to say more with less in New Haven.


Pershing Square Signature Center
480 W 42 Street
New York, N.Y. 10036
Runtime: 2 hrs. and 45 min.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

Accura News

Read previous post:
Air Canada Suspending Some Routes, Substituting Aircraft, As It Adjusts Schedule After Boeing 737 Max Grounding

Air Canada announced changes to its flying schedule that came about as a result of the grounding of the Boeing...