Visiting Mr. Green
When an actor can convincingly portray a conniving Wall Street asshole and then turn around and give a credible performance as a vulnerable elderly New Yorker, that's an impressive acting range. Last year, Gary S. Martinez portrayed the corrupt Ken Lay in Capital Stage's production of Enron and now wins us over as a cantankerous Jewish widower in Sacramento Theatre Company's current show, Visiting Mr. Green.
Martinez depicts the title character in Visiting Mr. Green, and the first time he hobbles across the stage to answer a knocking door, he appears so weak, you want to jump out of your chair and help him as he stumbles along. But help is on the other side of the door in the form of a young Ross Gardiner (nicely portrayed by Ryan Blanning). Both are reluctant participants in this forced relationship: Ross is ordered by the court to make weekly visits to Mr. Green after a reckless driving conviction that involved the elderly man.
The visits don't start out well, as the young, arrogant corporate executive clearly just wants to fulfill his probation requirement, while Mr. Green resents the intrusion and the unveiling of his loneliness and helplessness. But it's evident that these two will slowly appreciate each other, though they have traveled in different worlds in different eras.
The strength in the play is that this relationship is not an easy one, and both bring baggage to the journey while obviously filling a need for each other. While the play at times can seem a bit contrived and dated, there are enough twists to keep it interesting and enough warmth to keep you caring. And under the delicate thumb of director Marie Bain, the empathetic performances keep you rooting for this unusual friendship and ultimate resolution.