Last Saturday, I went to see the play Our New Girl at the Atlantic Theater’s Stage 2. It’s a really interesting production; the playwright, Nancy Harris, skillfully sets up our expectations for each character and then completely turns them around.
Our New Girl is about an upper-middle-class London family with what is politely known as issues. The mother is a former corporate lawyer who, after quitting her job to better care for her young son, is trying desperately to figure out her place in the world by starting an olive oil export business, and trying to figure out how to deal with her obviously troubled boy. The father is an overtly charitable plastic surgeon who regularly goes to troubled areas in other parts of the world to help people damaged by war and disease — and away from his family. The son is a rather mysterious eight-year-old who says little but sees a lot, and occasionally bursts out in violent ways. And the new nanny (hired by the father without the knowledge of the mother) is a young, outwardly caring Irish young woman who is more damaged (by a mother’s suicide and father’s abuse) than she at first lets on.
It’s very well acted and written, and as several reviewers have noticed (such as Charles Isherwood, whose own review expresses pretty much how I felt about the play), comes across both as a thriller and a domestic drama. I found the ending particularly satisfying (which is unusual these days, when I find the endings of many play and films either too pat or too up-in-the-air).
Our New Girl is only playing until June 29th, but if you’re looking for a play to attend that is not a Broadway blockbuster (and that you don’t have to pawn your computer to afford), you could do a lot worse.