Sunday, April 13, 2014
Act One ***
It's a bit ironic that this play about the storied theatrical collaboration of Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman was written and directed by James Lapine, who is noted for his own collaborative work but this time is working solo. Maybe that's the problem. Perhaps he needed another voice to rein him in from the play's excesses, particularly its excessive length. Maybe he was too smitten with Moss Hart's memoir to pare it down to a more manageable size. Nevertheless, this bioplay, now in previews at the Vivian Beaumont Theater, offers much to enjoy -- many will say too much. Any play that puts Santino Fontana, Tony Shalhoub and Andrea Martin on a stage together won't get too many complaints from me. Fontana is irresistibly charming as always and we get to enjoy Shalhoub and Martin in three roles each. The other 19 cast members are fine too. Yes, the play is old-fashioned and a bit sentimental, but it has many delightful moments. Only a nonprofit like Lincoln Center Theater is likely to take on such an expensive production. With some judicious trimming, it would be much improved. Beowulf Boritt's set works overtime to revolve between the play's many locales. Jane Greenwood's costumes are terrific. In general, I do not think it is a good idea for a playwright to direct his own work. There are exceptions, but this is not one of them. Running time: 2 hours, 45 minutes including intermission.