Review: 'The Commons of Pensacola' at the Wilton Playshop

Amanda Christine

OnStage Critic - Connecticut


We all know the story of Bernie Madoff and the lives he destroyed with his Ponzi scheme. But the impact that the scandal had on his family, is a story that isn't as public. Actress/Playwright Amanda Peet explores this situation with her play, The Commons of Pensacola, which is receiving an excellent run at the Wilton Playshop. 

Based on a Madoff-esque family, Judith has been divested of her assets and forced to leave her luxurious New York life after her husband's Wall Street scam became headline news. When her daughter Becca and Becca's filmmaker boyfriend pay Judith a visit to the one-bedroom condo Judith now occupies in Pensacola, Florida, everyone's motives are called into question. 

 Photo: Wilton Playshop

Photo: Wilton Playshop

The script is compact and far from perfect but gives the actors plenty of material to explore. A lesser cast might have failed but this ensemble is particularly strong. Nancy Thode is excellent as Judith. She emotes a tough outer shell while her world is tumbling down. There is pain underneath the exterior and Ms. Thode emotes this perfectly. Playing her equally conflicted daughter, Jessie Gilbert is fantastic. Flipping from comedic charm to bitter anger, Ms. Gilbert's scenes with Ms. Thode are the highlight of the show. 

This skilled cast also includes Erica Evelti, Shelley Lepetich, Deanna Hartog and Alex Helm. Each were so good in their roles that I wish they were on stage more. 

Director Carin Zakes' staging works very well and she manages her way through Peet's shortcomings. But all in all this is a strong production that succeeds in asking plenty of questions about money and family. 

The show runs through March 12th. For tickets and info visit,