Johnny Moynihan, in his mid-60’s, answers the front doorbell as (unseen) Trick or Treaters come to his house, where he gives out the “big bars,” not that “Walmart bullshit.”
His daughter Claire arrives believing she’s there to talk with him about putting her Alzheimer’s stricken mother in a nursing facility. Instead, Johnny breaks down and tells Claire: “I killed your mother.” He and Claire argue about when they need to contact Claire’s brother Teddy, who is in line to be the next Chief of Police in town. Johnny believes Teddy can be convinced this was a “Kervorkian thing,” and find a way to clear Johnny of any charges.
A disruptive neighbor with a mysterious connection to Johnny's past then intervenes, just before Teddy arrives, leading to a disturbing confrontation. As the play progresses, a number of shocking revelations turn the family upside down. Enthusiastic audience and critical response to the Northern Stage production generated an off-Broadway production at 59E59 Theaters off-Broadway. Both productions were directed by Carol Dunne, and featured Katie Bruestle (at Northern Stage), Jenni Putney, David Mason, Kathy McCafftery (in New York), Emmy Award Winner Gordon Clapp, and Kathy Manfre.
CRITICAL RESPONSE TO JACK NEARY’S TRICK OR TREAT AT 59E59 THEATERS, OFF-BROADWAY
CRITICAL RESPONSE TO JACK NEARY’S TRICK OR TREAT AT NORTHERN STAGE
“TRICK OR TREAT is a domestic horror show. A less skilled playwright might have gone for the obvious and focused on mercy-killing and the ravages of Alzheimer’s. But, with the surprising doings of the second act, Neary takes an unpredictable direction… Family uber alles. Its secrets are supposed to protect, but they always come back with bite, followed by unimagined consequences. Dramatist Arthur Miller said that tragedy was when the chickens come home to roost. And the birds are always in flight — even on Halloween.” ARTSFUSE.
“Jack Neary’s TRICK OR TREAT mixes murderous family secrets with mystery and comedy, indeed black comedy, that packs a wallop. Northern Stage presents a taught, riveting and deeply funny and touching world premiere production of “Trick or Treat,”… Taut, on-the-edge-of-your-seat storytelling enriched by real humanness, and with plenty of wit… entertaining and deeply affecting.” RUTLAND HERALD
“TRICK OR TREAT at Northern Stage is a show that weaves together comedy, drama and suspense… The story is propulsive, and neither director nor playwright pauses to tap the brakes… In playwright Neary's hands, that's the launching point for a comedy, not a tragedy. Without avoiding the drama in grim circumstances, the production paints a comic reality, but it's no whitewash of comic relief. As Neary's characters hit humorous notes, they ring true because they are people, not plot devices… the best laughs in the show are character driven. Convincing characters, not wordplay, spark the audience's laughter and emotional investment…This ensemble shows how powerful theater can be, especially when actors discover surprises before our eyes.” SEVEN DAYS
“The world premiere coming into its final weekend at Northern Stage, in White River Junction, is called Trick or Treat, and it’s an emotional roller coaster ride. Playwright Jack Neary gives us a working class family trying to hold itself together. For years, they’ve been keeping dark secrets from each other, and from the rest of the town. Alzheimer's threatens the life of the matriarch in some surprising ways. Her husband is torn by conflicting family loyalties in ways that breaks his heart - and ours. That’s where Neary finds dark humor, but it’s also why, after I left the theater, I had nightmares. To me, a sixty-something woman, this beautifully performed play was more terrifying than any news I’d read that week. It’s a timely reminder that I - or someone I love - could fall prey to a stealthy, incurable disease that strikes someone in the U.S. every six seconds.” VERMONT PUBLIC RADIO