In this well-acted, finely directed Off-Broadway production of Alexi Kaye Campbell’s 2009 play, Stockard Channing portrays Kristin Miller, a long-time activist, American expatriate and noted art historian who has entitled her recently published memoir Apologia. Apologia is a word, she is quick to point out, that should not be confused with an apology. “It means a formal, written defense of one’s opinions or conduct,” she explains to the small gathering in her cottage in the English countryside to celebrate her birthday.
But her two sons (both impressively portrayed by Hugh Dancy) feel she owes them an apology. They see her as having abandoned them when they were children. “I woke up one morning and realized that pretty much everything we are and everything we do is a response against you,” one of them says. They are both furious that she doesn’t even mention them in her memoir.
Is Kristin’s idealism defensible; what are the personal costs of public idealism? That is a question that the playwright in effect asks in Apologia, but in many ways it’s the least interesting or worthwhile aspect of his witty and engaging play.