Review: The joys and disappointments of parenting in “Daddy Issues”

Asys Danilova

  • New York Critic

NEW YORK NY - Meet Donald Moscowitz (Matt Koplik), an aspiring actor rehearsing a line for a cat food commercial in his cantaloupe-painted apartment. Meet his dad, Sid Moscowitz, trying to persuade his only child to abandon his unpromising acting career and homosexual life style for what seems like the 50th time. Donald spontaneously produces a lie to shut up his father’s whining and threats; he says that he has a 10-year-old son with his ex-girlfriend from the college musical-theater club. Mama, Marion Moskowitz (Kate Katcher) and Grandma Moskowitz quickly emerge in the apartment with gifts and screams of excitement. 

Now Donald and his sidekick friends, Levi Krauss (Shua Potter) and Henrietta Hudson (Elisabeth Klein), need to come up with a plan to find a boy to play his son and a woman to play Mary Ellen, the mother. Henrietta promotes herself from casting intern to casting director and quickly finds a star for the domestic show – 10-year-old Jonny Walker (Alex Ammerman), living with his alcoholic mother in the same building. Casting for the part of the Marry Ellen takes longer as both finalists (and the only contestants), Levi and Henrietta, are very persuasive as Donald’s college lover.                    

Daddy Issues, written by Marshal Goldberg and directed by David Goldyn is a sitcom in the theater. If you are hungry for the genre and nostalgic for 90s television – you will have a blast. The show is set in 1982, but the scenic design by Kevin Klakouski and costume design by Antonio Consuegra look like it might be 1992 or 2002, which doesn’t hurt the production at all. In fact, the modernized styling creates an immediate connection with the present as opposed to an impression that you are watching a historical piece. After all, sitcoms dip you into their own time/space continuum, where people interact using quotable jokes, take risks and turn the most upsetting life circumstances into reasons to laugh (e.g. the alcoholic single mother who lent her son to some neighbors and can’t find him). 

You will find all of this abundantly in Daddy Issues. Although the jokes are sometimes predictable, the actors’ ensemble pulls it off and makes the show enjoyable. The duo of supportive friends, fiery Levi Krauss (Shua Potter) and phlegmatic Henrietta Hudson (Elisabeth Klein), were my absolute favorite. Somewhere between not so original jokes about Henrietta’s weight and Levi’s femininity, those two created a comedic sidekick duo both caricature-like yet believable and therefore lovable.            

Daddy Issues plays at the Theatre at St. Clement’s, 423 West 46th Street, through November 6, 2016. The running time is 90 minutes with no intermission. Performances are Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 8, and Sundays at 3. Tickets start at $69 and are available at or by calling 866-811-4111.