Mothers and Sons and Balkanika

Tyne Daly is a force to reckon with in Terrence McNally’s new Mothers and Sons. Daly won a best actress Tony nomination for originating the role of tightly wound, unapologetic Katherine Gerard, who shows up unannounced from Texas at the New York home of her late son’s lover, twenty years after her son’s death from AIDS. She insists that she does not want to stay long, and she can’t bring herself to leave. Her helpless outrage has little place in this swank Upper West Side apartment, where Cal lives blissfully with his new husband and adopted son. He should never have let Katherine in the door, but he doesn’t throw her out, and that’s what makes it interesting.

Frederick Weller as Cal and his partner Will (Bobby Steggert) go about the evening rituals of bath and bedtime for their six-year-old, Bud, while Katherine plants herself in the living room with a scotch, sentimentally remembering Andre, her late son. Cal misses him too, but has gone forward since Andre died. Katherine can’t and won't. Who was hurt the most is one of the topics for discussion. She’s angry and out of touch—and then very funny. It’s heartbreaking to watch. Sheryl Kaller directs. McNally’s many plays and screenplays include Master Class, Kiss of the Spiderwoman, Dead Man Walking, and Frankie and Johnny.

Balkanika Restaurant serves healthy Mediterranean / Yugoslavian fare in a cozy, dark wood, deep-set room. From the street you’d never guess how far back the dining room goes. Old World manners prevail. A bartender lets you sit for as long as you like. However, two flat screens were muted but on—one had a chef prepping Balkan dishes including beef burek like we had for dinner, and the French Open was on the other. It’s an unwelcome restaurant trend to have multiple TVs and recorded music playing simultaneously.  

The colorful meze sampler platter has a choice of one, six, or eighteen spreads, served with toasted, whole-wheat pita triangles. After all eighteen were sampled, the favorites were walnut paste, artichoke with Parmesan, mushroom with sour cream, and Urnebes (feta, spicy red pepper flakes, egg whites, garlic and olive oil). The wine and beer selection includes Croatian, Macedonian and Turkish brands. Only five desserts, besides chocolate fondue, include Nutella raspberry plazma (minced cookies) crêpe.