A Comfortable Fit, Gracefully Worn
By DAVID ROONEY
NEW YORK TIMES
MAY 19, 2012
Jessica Hecht was filming in Albuquerque last year, reprising her role as the lost love of Walter White’s youth on the concluding season of “Breaking Bad,” when she got a call from Lynne Meadow, the artistic director of Manhattan Theater Club, asking how soon she could be back in New York for a reading of a new play. Ms. Meadow withheld details of the project, “The Assembled Parties,” not disclosing that it was a Richard Greenberg play until Ms. Hecht had returned from New Mexico.
“I read it, and I just found it bizarrely moving in a way that felt very familiar, as though he knew something about my family, which he now does,” said Ms. Hecht, who first worked with Mr. Greenberg on “The House in Town,” in 2006. “But Rich later told me I probably felt that way because it had been written for me. There were threads not only of myself but of other people we both knew. I guess I subconsciously recognized them.”
Ms. Hecht’s character in “The Assembled Parties” is Julie Bascov, the warm maternal heart of a secular Jewish family living in unostentatious splendor in a 14-room apartment on Central Park West. With her beguiling combination of airy affability and piercing directness, Julie is also the heart of Mr. Greenberg’s contemplation of the ravages and rewards of time, which is at its most affecting when examining the complexities of Julie’s relationship, viewed over a 20-year period starting in 1980, with her flinty sister-in-law Faye, a role played by Judith Light.
Julie is a universe away from the daffy physical comedy of Veta, the role in which Ms. Hecht opened the Broadway season in “Harvey.” While that dithery Colorado matron lives in a perpetual state of manic anxiety, Julie appears preternaturally serene. Even when it becomes clear that she has absorbed more than her share of loss, and faces a road ahead of deepening sorrow, she seems to float a few inches off the ground, buoyed by inextinguishable optimism. She’s also something of an enigma.
“Part of me is kind of private, so that element of Julie that works really hard to keep moving forward, to not expose more than she comfortably can, that’s me,” Ms. Hecht, 47, said.
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