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‘Good for Otto’ review: A picture of mental health

Ed Harris and Rileigh McDonald in David Rabe's

Ed Harris and Rileigh McDonald in David Rabe's "Good for Otto." Credit: Monique Carbon

WHAT “Good for Otto”

WHERE Pershing Square Signature Center, 480 W. 42nd St.

INFO $40-$125, 212-279-4200, thenewgroup.org,

BOTTOM LINE A rural mental health clinic shows flaws in the system.

It is impossible to watch “Good for Otto” without relating to the world around us. The David Rabe play making its New York premiere in a New Group production targets the U.S. mental health system, and it’s not a pretty picture.

Inspired by Richard O’Connor’s book “Undoing Depression,” the play is a painful examination of day-to-day operations at a rural mental health clinic, where therapists struggle as much with their own demons as those of their patients. Powerful performances from the star-studded cast are led by the real-life husband and wife Ed Harris and Amy Madigan as the therapists. Other standouts are F. Murray Abraham as a man seemingly paralyzed by the simple fact of getting old; Mark Linn-Baker as the autistic owner of the play’s title character (his pet hamster); and Rhea Perlman as a foster mom fighting for the severely troubled child in her care (a fierce performance from Rileigh McDonald, one of Broadway’s many Matildas).

At three hours, the play, directed by Scott Elliott, could stand some tightening, with too many interminable monologues and frequent musical interruptions, as the cast breaks into chestnuts like “Let Me Call You Sweetheart.” But the questions it poses are clear. Could any of the troubled souls we meet have slipped through the cracks of the system and inflicted harm on others? Sadly, as reality has proved time and again, the answer is a resounding yes.

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