Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Old Acquaintance

As far as pastiche revivals are concerned, Roundabout's current staging of John Van Druten's Old Acquaintance is nowhere near as entertaining as The Constant Wife, which the company presented perfectly two seasons ago. Both comedies are of a similar fach--headstrong dames front and center, living, loving and letting the feathers fly--but the latter, set on the cusp of the Twentieth Century, featured crackling dialogue brought to life by an extraordiarily gifted cast. The cast of the former certainly has gifts to spare (it's headed by two of New York's most valuable performers, Margaret Colin and Harriet Harris), but as far as material goes, there just isn't much there. The story, which centers around two protofeminist novelists who have engaged in a friendly rivalry since girlhood, is solid and resonates somewhat, but Van Druten's stilted, dry text leaves the players with very little to work with. (I can't imagine that most of the lines, which Colin and Harris try very hard to sell, were ever that funny, even when the play premiered in 1940.) Still, this play is, if nothing else, a piece for two formidable divas, and I'm hard pressed to think of any better ones. For two hours, these often underappreciated ladies reign supreme. That's nothing to complain about.

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