Wednesday, April 11, 2007
Had anyone other than an established playwright such as Terrence McNally written a play like Deuce, they would be laughed out of town. The show, one of the slightest and most baffling offerings I've seen on Broadway in years, is not really about anything--and yet it tries to be about so much. Not much happens: two legendary former tennis partners (Angela Lansbury and Marian Seldes), invited to watch the US Open from a prime box, sit around and talk about their lives, struggles to be taken seriously, and their enduring friendship and rivalry. There is something inherently compelling there, but McNally's writing is so sophomoric and inane that any level of profundity becomes unattainable. While it was a thrill to see a grande dame such as Lansbury on stage for the first time, I felt that she wasn't quite right for the role of a brash, in-your-face trailblazer; even when she's dropping four-letter words left and right, she still comes off like your grandmother. Seldes was ill-at-ease, too, and there was no spark in their back-to-back patter (which, I would assume, McNally intends to sound like a tennis ball being volleyed). In all fairness, I did see the first preview, but I cannot imagine anything substantial coming from this; it hits the net early on and never recovers.