The Treasurer

by Max Posner
Directed by Rebecca Bradshaw

Featuring:  Shanaé Burch*, Ken Cheeseman*, Cheryl McMahon*, Robert Najarian*

A disengaged son is forced to rein in his mother’s joyful overspending as she drifts away in her later years.

Ida Armstrong is broke, lonely, and fading fast. As she cheerfully spends all of her children’s money, her son is forced to assume the unwanted role of The Treasurer: an arrangement that becomes untenable the more he questions his devotion to her. This darkly funny, sharply intimate new work chronicles the strained ties between a son and his aging mother, and the weight of a guilty conscience.

“Posner’s play is a ravishing slow burn, with layers that quietly unpeel as the piece goes on . . . quite simply, a marvel!” – New York Magazine

This production of The Treasurer includes theatrical water-based haze that has been tested to meet OSHA, FDA, and Actors’ Equity standards for non-toxicity. Additional details are available upon request.

Content Advisory: dicsussions of death and suicide

The play begins in Denver, Colorado with The Son riding his bike and contemplating life and death, and stating that someday soon, he will be in hell. He tells stories about his wife, giving insight to his world and way of thinking. He mentions how his son asked him to write a play about his delusional mother and their relationship and that he agreed.

We then see Ida, The Son’s mother, in her kitchen asking her husband Ron if he is hungry. He doesn’t respond and as she approaches the armchair, she recognizes that he has passed away.

Then, we see The Son on the phone with his brothers, Allen and Jeremy. They discuss Ida’s financial problems – how the bank has bought her house and she is in more than $80,000 of debt. The Son tries to argue that they move their mother to government subsidized nursing but Jeremy and Allen argue that some of those locations are “dog pounds for people.” Allen talks to Ida and states that Ida wants to move to Beaverbrook. The Son looks at the Beaverbrook website and its cost – $250,000 upfront. His brothers argue with him again, recognizing that they get a good percentage of that money back. Jeremy suggests that they need to put someone officially in charge of Ida’s purchases. Since Allen and Jeremy live in Albany with Ida while The Son lives in Colorado, they suggest that he is Ida’s treasurer since they will be helping her on the ground moving her. That and The Son is the only good one about “laying down the law.”

The scene shifts to Ida’s home where she takes a call from the Albany Symphony Orchestra looking for Ron Armstrong. She rambles about the hail last night and checks in to make sure the man on the phone’s car is okay. He gets right back to business, urging her to join the “Legacy Club.” She agrees to join the highest paying level, the Maestro circle, so her name gets to be in the program.

The scene shifts again to Ida in her home and The Son in his, attempting to discuss her living situation, despite Ida’s dog Daisy yapping. Ida suggests that she would be comfortable moving to Manhattan and tells The Son not to worry about money because she is getting a job. The Son tries to redirect the conversation discussing “Senior Living Solutions” but Ida quickly rejects all possibilities, stating that all her friends are in Beaverbrook.Eventually worn down, The Son agrees to figure out a way to afford Beaverbrook.

On another bike ride, The Son reminisces a story about how his wife Nora peed the bed the fifth night they spent together. He states that after they cleaned the sheets and showered, they made love and that moment is what he would consider his heaven point to be.

The scene shifts to Ida, now living at Beaverbrook, looking at herself in an ornate mirror and on the phone with The Son. She is pleased that they managed to get the mirror up on the wall despite it being so heavy. The Son lets her know that he talked to the vet about her dog, Daisy. The dog needs surgery which is not only expensive but invasive, however, she is also fourteen. The Son says that it is time to say goodbye to Daisy. She begins to agree and then the mirror crashes to the ground. The Son checks in to make sure she is okay but Ida is more concerned that now she is cursed.

We then see another phone call with the brothers, looking for a new dog for their mother. They try to find an older dog that is also a female, per Ida’s request. We shift to Ida in her apartment talking to her new dog Bella, “the most popular girl in all The Beaverbrook.” 

The scene shifts to Ida at Talbots, talking to an African American saleswoman named Ronette. Ronette attempts to create a sale by urging Ida to buy a pair of purple corduroy pants but winds up getting in a long conversation with Ida about divorce and cell phones. She tries to help another customer but Ida keeps chatting, mainly about women in politics. Ida discusses how she started a program called HAVE A HEART? where she taught kids to read and suggests that she could’ve taught Ronette’s father or grandfather. There’s silence. Ida realizes she made a mistake by saying that and attempts to be forgiven by mentioning that she knew Martin Luther King Junior and that she marched on Washington. Ronette calls Ida an inspiring lady in which Ida replies that Ronette is.

We then see the Son with the Beaverbrook newsletter where Ida is profiled as the Resident of the Month in a highly fictionalized biography. The Son states that the reason he will be in Hell because he doesn’t love his mother. He also recognizes that he cannot remember a moment where Ida didn’t require everyone to sanction her alternate reality and how irresponsible she is.

The Son logs into her bank account to learn how much she costs his family. He looks at where she has spent money. He can support her charitable donations, but tells his mother that she does not have money for Talbots pants like that despite them being on sale. Ida promises to return them and the Son reminds her to only purchase the necessities. Ida, on the verge of tears, hangs up the phone by stating that she has to speak to a friend.

She begins dialing a number and stranger answers the call. She introduces herself to see if the stranger remembers her and he replies that he thinks that she has the wrong number. She knows that this is the number she was meant to call because she has memorized the phone number. Ida asks who it is on the other end of the line and how he is doing. He responds that his name is Julian Torres and that he has had the number for about two years. Ida thinks that maybe she has called a telephone landline that she knows but Julian states that he’s on a cell phone. Ida gets upset and asks why she can’t forget this silly number and begins to cry. Ida asks if there is anything she can solve for him. Julian thinks about it for a moment and then asks if she knows how to make lemon squares. Ida decides that she can google it for him. She tells Julian that he has given her hope in the “Albany personality” and is confused when he says he is not in Albany, but in Tampa. Ida is confused when he asks her for the recipe for the lemon squares and hangs up. 

Later that night, at The Beaverbrook, Ida take her dog out and is frustrated that she can’t remember the dog’s name. She goes inside to get a poop bag but instead removes the pillowcase from one of her pillows and uses that. She states that if she had dementia she would throw poop everywhere, and then remembers that she named her dog Bella.

The Son’s cell phone rings and he answers. Ida is attempting to purchase a new cell phone, and needs his authorization.  The Son asks what is wrong with the phone she has and Ida tells him that she wants a “shiny little flat one.” The Son replies that she does not have the money for a phone like that and reminds her that he is always the one paying, not her, and threatens to cut off all her cards. 

The scene shifts to Ida standing next to a salesman at a high-end bedding store. Ida says that she is looking to purchase a pillowcase and a nice feather pillow. The salesman flirts with her and convinces her to purchase two pillows for $1,200. As Ida goes to get her card, she wets herself. The salesman asks if she wants to use the bathroom but she insists on paying first. When her cards are declined, she asks if she could write a check and is flummoxed that they are no longer accepted.

The scene shifts again to The Son on the phone with his brothers, discussing incidents showing their mother’s decline. Jeremy suggests that if he wants someone else to take over tracking Ida’s spending that he could try but the Son tells him it’s fine.

Ida enters Talbots, where Ronette remembers her and asks how she has been. Ida is confused, and attempts to return her purple pants. As Ida’s confusion grows, she begins to get physically uncomfortable and says that she needs a bathroom.

Through a series of phone calls and interactions with medical personnel, Ida learns from her sons that she has had a stroke and will need to be moved into an assisted living facility. 

The Son is now on a plane headed straight to Albany, sitting next to a pregnant woman. The woman asks if he is heading home and he tells her that he is moving his mother into a terrible nursing home. She responds that she is going to see her mother star in a terrible community theater production of The Glass Menagerie. The Son tells her that he has a son who is into “that kinda stuff.” The Son shares that he has memorized one of the monologues from the show because he helped his son learn it. The woman asks him to recite it to her and he can’t really do it but explains that it is always stuck in his head at work. 

The scene shifts to a Japanese restaurant somewhere near Albany. The Son and Ida sit across from each other but they are not talking. They sit in silence. Ida tries to make the conversation and states how special it is that they both found their soulmate. They finish their dinner mostly in silence and The Son drives Ida back to the nursing home. As they say good night, The Son says “love you.” Ida asks him to say I love you instead. He says good night.

After some time passes, his brothers call to tell The Son their mother has passed away. 

The Son is riding his bike again. An elderly woman driving a Saab almost pummels him into the asphalt and he gets off the bike for a second and then gets back on. He is thinking about everything surrounding him, doesn’t look and turns and gets hit by a car, and dies. He finds himself waiting for an elevator. There is another guy waiting for the elevator as well. They make small talk. They get in the elevator and discover that the elevator is going down. The Son is confused as to why the guy with him is going down as well. When the guy asks him why he is going down, The Son realizes that it was his idea. 

It gets quiet. The Son continues to lower into Hell and talks about his own son. In time, he knows he will be forgotten by those still living. However, he does know that when his son will have to answer the question “in what city was your father born?,” he will know the answer.

Scenic Design by Kristin Loeffler
Costume Design by Chelsea Kerl
Lighting Design by Chris Hudacs
Sound Design by Elizabeth Cahill
Production Stage Manager: Nerys Powell
Assistant Stage Manger: Rose Mancuso
Props Artisan: Lauren Corcuera
Season sponsored by Lee & Diana Humphrey, Joe Richard & Rene Morrissette in Memory of Rose Rocco and Yves Morrissette, and our corporate sponsor:

Production sponsored by Jo-An Heileman
Director Rebecca Bradshaw sponsored by the Lyric Stage Advisory Council




Cast & Crew

Rebecca Bradshaw – Director

Rebecca Bradshaw*** (Director) is a Boston-based director, casting director, and producer making her Lyric Stage debute. Recent directing credits include Photograph 51 (Nora Theatre), Our Dear Dead Drug Lord  (Off the Grid), Stupid F*ing Bird, Mrs. Warren’s Profession (Emerson Stage), Luna Gale (Greater Boston Stage Company), Bad Jews (SpeakEasy Stage), Familiar (A.R.T. Institute), Both/And (MIT/Central Square Theater), Big Love (Brandeis University), The Earth Room, Fire on Earth (Fresh Ink Theatre), Speech and Debate (Bad Habit Productions), Oleanna, Red (The Umbrella), The Tempest, The Secret in the Wings (Weston Drama Workshop), Fufu & Oreos, Not Jenny (Bridge Rep of Boston), The Love of the Nightingale (Hub Theatre of Boston), among others. Bradshaw is the Associate Producer at the Huntington Theatre Company and a proud alum and affiliated faculty of Emerson College. Next up: Henry V at Actors’ Shakespeare Project.

Max Posner – Playwright

Max Posner’s (Playwright) productions include Judy (Page 73, directed by Ken Rus Schmoll), Snore (Juilliard directed by Knud Adams), and Sisters on the Ground (NYU Tisch directed by Ken Rus Schmoll). He is the recipient of a Helen Merrill Emerging Playwright Award, the Heideman Award from Actors Theatre of Louisville, the Page 73 Playwriting Fellowship, two MacDowell Colony Fellowships, two Lecomte du Nouy awards, and was named the 2015 Writer-in-Residence at Williamstown Theater Festival. Max is working on new play commissions for South Coast Repertory, Playwrights Horizons, and a libretto for the Brooklyn Youth Chorus with the composer Ellis Ludwig Leone. He’s an alum of the Soho Rep Writer/Director Lab, Ars Nova Playgroup, The Working Farm, Interstate 73, and a frequent volunteer with Manhattan’s 52nd Street Project. He contributed to The Characters (Netflix) for comedian John Early. Max’s plays have been developed at Playwrights Horizons, Soho Rep, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Page 73, Clubbed Thumb, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Manhattan Theatre Club, Roundabout Underground, Atlantic Theater Company, Ars Nova, The Bushwick Starr, New York Theater Workshop, American Theater Co, The Hangar Theatre, the Juilliard School, and Space on Ryder Farm. He is a graduate of Brown University (2011 Weston Award for playwriting) and completed a two-year Lila Acheson Wallace Playwriting Fellowship at Juilliard. Max was born and raised in Denver and lives in Brooklyn.

Ken Cheeseman* – The Son

Ken Cheeseman* (The Son) is making his Lyric Stage debut.  Ken has been seen off-Broadway in ScapinDr. FaustusThe Cherry Orchard (Classic Stage Company), The Master Builder (Brooklyn Academy of Music), King Lear (La Mama ETC, Actors Shakespeare Project), A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Measure for Measure (Shakespeare in the Park/Public Theatre). Regional credits: La Jolla Playhouse, Hartford Stage, Baltimore Center Stage, Yale Rep, Long Wharf Theatre, Portland Stage, American Conservatory Theatre, and Shakespeare and Company. Boston credits: American Repertory Theatre, New Repertory Theatre, Gloucester Stage, Actors’ Shakespeare Project, the Huntington Theatre. and Trinity Rep, where he graduated from their conservatory program in 1980. Film and TV credits include: Shutter Island, Mystic River, Leaves of Grass, Joy, Next Stop Wonderland, Big Night and Monk, Law and Order, The Time Traveling Bong and the award-winning HBO series Olive Kitteridge. Ken is a Senior Artist in Residence at Emerson College and also teaches for the World Economic Forum, the Obama Foundation at Columbia University, and at the Linklater International Voice Center in Orkney, Scotland.

Cheryl McMahon* – Ida

Cheryl McMahon* (Ida) returns to the Lyric Stage having appeared in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, My Fair Lady, Spitfire Grill, The Porch, and Lend Me a Tenor. Most recently, Cheryl appeared in Admissions (SpeakEasy Stage). Other credits include A Christmas Carol (26 years, North Shore Music Theatre, Huntington Theatre, Stoneham Theatre, SpeakEasy Stage, Goodspeed Opera House, Gateway Playhouse, Wheelock Family Theatre, Next Door Theatre, Boston Playwrights, and New London Barn Playhouse. With Stickball Productions, Cheryl originated the role of Ma in Bill Doncaster’s Two Lost Boys. She also originated roles in Gail Phaneuf’s and Ernie Lijoi’s, Monsters, the Musical, and Jack Neary’s The Porch. Cheryl is a three-time IRNE award recipient. Film credits include Defending Jacob, Russian Doll, The Box, RIPD, Brilliant Mistakes, Clue I & II, and The A Plate.

Robert Najarian* – Male Actor

Robert Najarian* (male actor) is an actor, fight choreographer, instructor, and author making his Lyric Stage debut. As a performer, New York credits:  Sleep No More (Punchdrunk/Emursive,) Daybreak (Pan Asian Repertory Theater,) Macbeth (Shelter Theater.) Regional:  Sleep No More (American Repertory Theater,) Talley’s Folly (Purple Rose Theater Company,) The Kite Runner (New Rep), Copenhagen, Einstein’s Dreams (Central Square Theater), Hamlet, Intimate Apparel (Theater at Monmouth), Trajectories (Evet Arts Chicago,) Take Me Out (SpeakEasy Stage), Don Giovanni (Washington National Opera), Shear Madness (Charles Street Playhouse.) Fight Direction for numerous theaters including American Repertory Theater, SITI Company/Emerson Stage, Boston Lyric Opera, Boston Ballet, Rosanna Gamson World Wide Dance, and Trinity Rep. Former faculty at University of Michigan, Boston University, College of the Holy Cross, and Harvard University. MFA: The Shakespeare Theatre’s Academy for Classical Acting at the George Washington University.  BA: Bowdoin College. Union Member: AEA, SAG-AFTRA, SDC. His book The Art of Unarmed Stage Combat is available through Routledge.

Shanaé Burch* – Female Actor

Shanaé Burch* (female actor) is making her Lyric Stage debut. Boston credits include Mrs. Packard (Bridge Rep), Journey to the West (Central Square Theater), and Milk Like Sugar (Huntington Theater) as well as performances with Israeli Stage, Bad Habit Productions, Fresh Ink Theatre, and Hibernian Hall. She is a graduate of Emerson College’s B.F.A. Acting program, and she is currently pursuing a doctorate in public health education at Columbia University where she is studying how arts participation and creativity impact health outcomes. She’s grateful to her family, friends, and mentors for their love and support on this adventure. PR 16:24

Kristin Loeffler – Scenic Design

Chelsea Kerl – Costume Design

Chris Hudacs – Lighting Design

Elizabeth Cahill – Sound Design

Nerys Powell* – Production Stage Manager

Rose Mancuso – Assistant Stage Manager

Lauren Corcuera – Props Artisan

Sivan Amir – Assistant Director

Katie Lamm – Master Electrician

* denotes member of Actor’s Equity Association
** denotes member of United Scenic Artists (USA-Local 829)
*** denotes member of Stage Directors and Choreographers Society (SDC)

Press & Reviews

“Rebecca Bradshaw is at the helm of the Lyric production, which features Ken Cheeseman as The Son and Cheryl McMahon (recently such a passive-aggressive blast of fresh air in SpeakEasy Stage Company’s “Admissions”) as his progenitor.”
12 Productions To See On Stage This Winter | WBUR The ARTery

In Max Posner’s play, a middle-aged man (played by Ken Cheeseman) who is deeply estranged from his mother (Cheryl McMahon), agrees to be in charge of keeping track of her increasingly wayward finances after she moves into a retirement community.
10 theater picks for winter, on stages big and small | The Boston Globe

Lyric Stage…tackles the dilemma that many families face — what to do when an aging parent can’t manage her money — in “The Treasurer” by Max Posner.

10 Things To Do This Weekend (Feb. 21-23) | Lowell Sun

“So many people have either gone through this experience of caring for an aging parent, or they will go through it,” says Cheeseman, “we can’t help but recognize the dilemmas in the experience.”

In Lyric’s ‘The Treasurer,’ a son, his aging mother, and a reckoning | The Boston Globe

“I think there are definitely indictments of our cultural and political systems and paradigms. We live in a country where the care of the elderly is either something that absolutely wipes out everybody’s bank account, or they are put into nursing homes that may be less than satisfying places to be. That’s the kindest way to say it.” – Ken Cheeseman

Ties That (Financially) Bind :: Ken Cheeseman on Max Posner’s Family Comedy ‘The Treasurer’ | EdgeMediaNetwork

The fraught matter of mothers and sons comes up again when the Lyric Stage Company of Boston takes on the area premiere of Max Posner’s 2017 off-Broadway play centered on a middle-aged man who is assigned by his siblings to take charge of his aging, profligate mom’s finances as she slips into dementia.

12 Productions To See On Stage This Winter | WBUR The ARTery

In Max Posner’s play, a middle-aged man (played by Ken Cheeseman) who is deeply estranged from his mother (Cheryl McMahon), agrees to be in charge of keeping track of her increasingly wayward finances after she moves into a retirement community. He then must grapple with his conscience after he begins to question the depth of his devotion to her.

10 theater picks for winter, on stages big and small | The Boston Globe

Ticket Prices

Day Center Section Side Section
Wed Mat $53 $37
Wed/Thur/Fri $69 $49
Sat/Sun $75 $55

February 21 — March 14
3:00 pm

Running Time: 100 minutes, no intermission
Box Office: 617-585-5678

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