As admirers of "Boardwalk Empire" well know, Gretchen Mol -- who plays the high-class madam -- has a silken, prickly beauty that always suggests she has irresistible secrets on the side. In "The Good Mother," she brings the same mysterious allure to a less luxurious character, the struggling 33-year-old single mother of a severely autistic daughter.
Francine Volpe's new drama, directed by Scott Elliott with more psychological sensitivity than the script supports, sets up an ominous but improbable situation. The mother leaves a sullen young man, the son of a former mentor (Mark Blum), to baby-sit while she goes out with a trucker. Everyone talks in a fragmented emotional shorthand about their damaged youths and thwarted ambitions. Even with Mol to watch, it is hard to care.
WHAT "The Good Mother"
WHERE The New Group, 410 W. 42nd St.
INFO $60; 212-239-6200; thenewgroup.org
BOTTOM LINE The title's ironic, right?