New Jersey Stage
New Jersey Stage on social media

Tune into Radio Jersey with Lee Mrowicki every Monday through Friday from 6pm to 8pm
Broadcast on Asbury Music!

REVIEW: "Linger" at Premiere Stages at Kean

By Gary Wien

originally published: 07/18/2018

REVIEW: "Linger" at Premiere Stages at Kean

(UNION, NJ) — Craig Garcia’s new play, Linger, gives new meaning to the term “nuclear family” and offers a powerful story, terrific performances, and fine direction by John J. Wooten.  Sadly, it has also changed the way I'll remember my favorite song by The Beach Boys.  I will never hear it without thinking of this play.

Linger opens with the family getting ready to go to a wedding and the father thinking about taking having the family take one final vacation together before their oldest child leaves for college.  Those plans change quickly when they see the flashing lights of a police car outside.  They soon realize the police are coming to their house.

James (the father played by Michael Frederic) and Mike (the son played by Robby Haltiwanger) are brought to the police station where Mike is questioned.  James calls home to tell his wife, Maryanne (played by Danielle Skraastad), that Mike is being charged with assault and possibly more.

REVIEW: "Linger" at Premiere Stages at Kean

Maryanne immediately calls a friend for help with finding a criminal lawyer.  While she is on the phone, Mike’s younger sister, Summer (played by Sarah Kathryn Makl), is both extremely upset and annoying as she tries to get answers from her mother while she is on an important phone call.

Mike is forced to spend the night in jail.  The play moves swiftly from the day Mike was arrested to when he’s back home.  He was released on bail - a pretty significant amount that left the family moving money from their savings.  Neither of the parents can believe or even comprehend what is happening. They thought they lived in such a safe area. They don’t believe their son could take part in beating someone.  But on social media…

The article continues after this ad


On social media, the story is everywhere.  Mike was one of many at a very big party in which a boy named Bobby Williams was beaten very badly.  The police think the attack was done because Bobby is gay.  Mike’s mother asks him what he remembers. He says he came home at midnight and didn’t see anything take place.  His mother recalls hearing him come in much closer to 2:30am though.

When Maryanne tells James about the discrepancy in time, the father doesn’t understand what the big deal is.  “It’s a difference between whether he was there when it happened or not,” explained Maryanne.  “I don’t think he’s being completely truthful.”

James describes the setting while Mike was being questioned.  “Every word was being manipulated,” he recalled.  He said they tried splitting them up, but he wouldn’t leave his son.

REVIEW: "Linger" at Premiere Stages at Kean“You liked Bobby, right?” James later asks his son.

“What do you mean? Why would you ask that?” replied Mike.

Meanwhile, his sister keeps mentioning stories and photos appearing on social media sites.  Both Mike and Summer are rarely seen without holding their phone.  The world of social media and smart phones play major roles in this play.  They are like characters we somewhat see, but never hear, and their importance in influencing public opinion is well understood and feared.

“These kids have no idea what happened and they’re writing this bullshit,” says James in frustration.  “Can’t you just say something to defend your brother?”

The playwright offers an insightful look at how difficult it is to remain private in a social media world. The parents wish they could just take away their phones and make everything go back to normal, but in reality the outside world is making threats to their children.

In a surprise twist, Bobby wants to see Maryanne, who was his pediatrician throughout his life.  Bobby’s father (played by Jonathan C. Kaplan) visits Maryanne in her office.  She does not think it’s a good idea to see him, but Bobby’s father persuades her to.

Bobby (played by Will Ehren) enters the room, walking gingerly, and in a lot of pain. Maryanne begins to examine him.  He’s suffered multiple broken ribs and a concussion. When he removes his shirt, we see bruises and scars covering his back, but that is nothing compared to what has happened from being forcibly raped by a bottle.  

REVIEW: "Linger" at Premiere Stages at Kean

“Did Mike do this to you?” she asks while trembling in shock.

Back home, James still appears to be in denial of the situation.  He again brings up talk about visiting Europe for vacation.  Maryanne reminds him of how much they have just spent on bail and will spend on legal fees - not to mention that Mike isn’t supposed to leave the state.  She also warns that this may not end anytime soon.

One of the most intense scenes occurs when Maryanne mentions that she saw Bobby in her office.  James immediately senses that this is a breakthrough for Mike — Bobby wouldn’t possibly go see Mike’s mother if Mike was guilty.  If anything, he knows they can use this to destroy Bobby’s character.  Maryanne is firmly against the idea - because she is worried Mike is guilty and worried the news could ruin her career.

“If you do this, I am never going to forgive you!” she cries out.  “You will break everything!”

This is not your standard television family with a problem that gets wrapped up in thirty minutes or less.  The members of this family yell at each other; they physically push and even attack one another; and their problems go much deeper than any broadcast drama.  The family has real problems and acts the way you would expect a family to act when their son is in the kind of trouble Mike has landed himself in. 

Because of the way we have been trained to see and hear families on television or on stage, the yelling seems louder, more forceful, and more detrimental. We are seeing a family destroying itself. The family is so believable, it makes the fighting seem much worse.  And the questions it raises are very difficult ones for any family:  Is our son capable of committing such an atrocity? Did he do it? If he is guilty, but we find a way to get the charges dropped, can we ever live with ourselves? 

REVIEW: "Linger" at Premiere Stages at Kean

The play takes part in two acts.  The first act is so powerful, so draining, one wonders how it can keep up the pace in the second act, but it does.  It benefits from some truly remarkable performances led by Danielle Skraastad whose gut wrenching primal scream will haunt you as you leave the theatre; Robby Haltiwanger’s nuanced portrayal of Bobby; Michael Frederic as the father who wants to help his son so badly that he ignores everything else; and Sarah Kathryn Makl whose character grows more complex as the play moves on.  Jonathan C. Kaplan (Bobby’s father) and Will Ehren (Bobby) are strong in supporting roles as well.

Linger is an excellent piece of theatre by Craig Garcia.  It received this production by winning the 2018 Premiere Play Festival. Once again, I found myself extremely impressed by the work done at Premiere Stages at Kean University.  They consistently present powerful works led by impressive casts and Linger is among the best I’ve seen yet. Highly recommended!

Premiere Stages at Kean University presents Linger on Thursdays and Fridays at 8:00pm; Saturdays at 3:00pm and 8:00pm; and Sundays at 3:00pm.  It runs until July 29th in the Bauer Boucher Theatre Center on the Kean University Main Campus in Union.

REVIEW: "Linger" at Premiere Stages at Kean

Photos by Mike Peters

For more by this author, click here

Circle Players Presents "After The Revolution"
(PISCATAWAY, NJ) -- Circle Players presents After the Revolution by Amy Herzog, weekends from February 1st to February 17th. The production is directed by Alicia Harabin. In the play, Emma Joseph is a bright, hard-working, law school graduate continuing her family’s business of fighting for progressive ideals. 
Black Box PAC Presents "Significant Other"
(TEANECK, NJ) -- Black Box PAC's first main stage show of 2019 is Significant Other by Joshua Harmon. BBPAC is no stranger to Harmon’s work, as one of the first hits at the Black Box Performing Arts Center was Harmon’s hit Bad Jews. Significant Other follows the perpetually single Jordan Berman and his trio of girl friends as they navigate dating, relationships, and supporting those you love. Performances run from January 24 to February 10th.
The Theater Project Presents 5th Annual One-Act Play Competition
(MAPLEWOOD, NJ) -- Which play will be voted Audience Favorite – the romance, the thriller, or the comedy?  And which author will take the $500 Judge’s Award?
Dreamcatcher Presents World Premiere of "Psychodrama"
(SUMMIT, NJ) -- Dreamcatcher Repertory Theatre will present the World Premiere of Psychodrama by Montclair playwright Phoebe Farber. This seriocomedy unfolds in a divorce support group where a new leader introduces unorthodox methods that just might work. Psychodrama runs February 14-March 3.
Centenary Stage Presents Henrik Ibsen's "Enemy Of The People"
(HACKETTSTOWN, NJ) -- Randall Duk Kim and Anne Occhiogrosso headline Centenary Stage Company’s production of Henrik Ibsen’s An Enemy of the People, February 15 through March 3 in the Sitnik Theatre of the Lackland Performing Arts Center, Hackettstown, New Jersey. Adapted by John Alan Wyatt and directed by Anne Occhiogrosso, the production will feature Randall Duk Kim as Doctor Thomas Stockmann supported by an acting company of professional and local talent from the tri-state area and Centenary University. The full-scale production marks the culmination of the 2018 Gates Ferry Lecture Series: “What is Truth?”

Emmy-Winning South Oranger, Andre Braugher
​​​​​​​“I’m Andre Braugher and I’m here at the South Orange Performing Arts Center, SOPAC, rehearsing a new play by Julia Doolittle called ‘Tell Them I’m Still Young.’”
Laiona Michelle Talks About "Little Girl Blue: The Nina Simone Musical"
This might be the right time for Nina Simone—15 years after her death. That’s what Laiona Michelle thinks, and, in a way, Michelle will be testing that idea by bringing the singer-activist to life in a world-premiere musical show at George Street Playhouse. Michelle wrote the show—“Little Girl Blue: The Nina Simone Musical”—and she will appear in the title role at the New Brunswick theater from January 29 through February 24.
It's "Apple Season" at NJ Rep
Every family has stories. Some are funny. Some are sweet. Some are sad. And some are never shared. Those are often the most powerful.
Rise of the Goatman
Theater For The New City presents Beltsville/Rockville, Part 1: Rise of the Goatman, an original play by Englewood resident Matt Okin (Artistic Director of Black Box Studios), from December 27 through January 13. In this pseudo-Southern Gothic dark comedy, a vibrant group of teens from two very different suburban neighborhoods clash over class differences, drugs, and sex - and the existence of the legendary ‘Goatman’ in 1986. Cut to 2013, and the adolescent kids of those very same teens are struggling to make sense of their family histories - and the same “mythological” creature - that could be holding them back in life.
PHOTOS from "The Winter's Tale" at Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey
(MADISON, NJ) -- The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey’s concludes its 56th season with its sixth and final Main Stage production, The Winter's Tale. Last seen at The Shakespeare Theatre in 2008, Artistic Director Bonnie J. Monte directs this production of Shakespeare’s tragicomedic romance. Veteran company members Jacqueline Antaramian, Jon Barker, Erin Partin, John Keabler, Raphael Nash Thompson,Seamus Mulcahy, Patrick Toon, and Ames Adamson are among a cast of 20 actors. Performances run now through December 30. 

Event calendar
Tuesday, Jan 22, 2019

Sorry, no events listed for today.
Here are some upcoming events.

Rechnitz Halls DiMattio Gallery, Monmouth University @ 10:00am
West Long Branch

Pollak Theatre @ Monmouth University @ 7:30pm
West Long Branch

New Jersey Repertory Company @ 8:00pm
Long Branch


For more on our awards, click here

New Jersey Stage © 2019 by Wine Time Media, LLC | PO Box 140, Spring Lake, NJ 07762 (732) 280-7625 |

Images used on this site have been sent to us from publicists, artists, and PR firms.
If there is a problem with the rights to any image, please contact us and we will look into the matter.