The play's not entirely without hope, however. Claire and her mother, sister, and daughter have moments of hope. But until the very end of the play, when the characters begin to appreciate some of the good things they mean to do for each other in the present, most of Claire's faint hopes are focused on restoring the lost past.
Overall, the legendary Broadway director Ulu Grosbard, who directed the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Subject Was Roses, and Henley's play The Wake of Jamey Foster (a Broadway flop in the early '80s), did a nice job helping the actors find the emotional truth of behind their characters' dialogue. But the loose, unstructured nature of the play ties his hands and some of the pauses between speeches seem self-indulgent and overlong, even for something about self-examination. It's almost as if, in the absence of real dramatic tension, Grosbard is attempting to allow the audience to fill in the voids and long pauses with their own imagination. He may, in fact, be on to something, but in the end it makes for an unsatisfying experience.
Gregorio, a veteran Broadway actress who is excellent in almost everything she does, is also miscast as Lena, Claire's mother. For one thing, Gregorio, who appeared in M Butterfly and The Shadow Box, seemed too together looking, too well-tailored and polished for the role of Claire's mother. You can't imagine her ever hitting her child.
Carol Kane, as Rickey, Claire's goofy, thrown-together sister, is appropriately goofy and thrown-together. But her character is more cartoon than character, even though she gets the lion's share of big laughs.
Phillips also plays the duel role of Claire and the institution's therapist. As a result, one doesn't really know if Claire is actually playing the therapist or merely spouting the truisms she's learned from professionals or books at the institution.
Family Week is produced by Jean Doumanian, who has a long history of producing Woody Allen films, and Ron Kastner, who is co-producing the current Broadway revivals of The Real Thing. And I wish they had both waited until Henley did more work on Family Week.