The quiet score of Cole Porter’s “Night and Day.” Lights up on Vincent. “Somebody just proposed to me – on the fucking phone?! What is it with this, it’s our third goddamn date!” Things have changed. Like any newfound freedom, some dive in without looking, others, having waited too long, gratefully take advantage. “Fag over fifty gets a proposal from a guy who’s not awful!” Vincent exclaims. He’s shocked, flattered, wary. “The best part is that he’s not an actor.” The character’s mother, having pursued the stage, married four egotistical, flamboyant thespians – and a fifth who was not. Vincent, a high school teacher, met Jerry, a nurse, in his mother’s Alzheimer’s ward. Blackout.
Lights up on Jerry. The play unfolds in brief vignettes. “Twenty-five years of dating and you learn to go slow – so of course, I propose on the third date!” A slight accent is more New York than that of Vincent. Excitement rules. Can this really be happening?! Blackout.
Lights up on Jerry’s long deceased grandfather Damiano, a staunch supporter who’s taken up residence in his grandson’s brain with the two-fold dream to get Jerry to stop smoking – the old man died of cancer- and go back to acting. “He had a real gift.” Yelling apparently does no good. The accent is good here, somewhat more extreme than Jerry’s. Blackout.
Lights up on Vincent’s mother. “He visits what’s left of me. It can be very disorienting…” This characterization is the weak link. It’s so over the top camp, Charles Busch would be embarrassed. Mom talks about her sacrifice in giving up the stage and marriage. That she remains somewhat fuzzy is a nice touch. A brief tap routine feels like filler.
We move from one character to the other as Vincent and Jerry ease into plans observed by the curmudgeonly occupants of their minds. The couple’s observations of and feelings about one another are warmhearted and specific. Neither expected to be swept off his feet. Both, however, have secrets they keep until the last minute when everything turns on a dime.
Playwright Monica Bauer has written a tender, sometimes droll, mostly believable play. There are a few too many gay clichés in Vincent’s first monologues, his mother is unbelievable and the piece could be successfully edited. Nonetheless, overall, characters are well constructed, plot unfolds with grace; it’s entertaining and moving.
Though Jerry’s accent diminishes as the play goes on, actor John Fico ably embodies three of the four protagonists. Both inflection and posture change. Vincent’s vulnerability and a joyful life change by Jerry are both palpable. Damiano feels cozily familiar.
Director John Fitzgibbon has a terrific sense of pacing. He gives his actor space to think, reflect, and respond. Subtle differentiation works. Small props, worn and discarded, serve to distinguish. Movement is minimal, but apt.
Photo by Ellis Glaskell
Two more performances al fresco: Thursday June 17th and the following Thursday June 24th, both at 7 p.m.
Meet at West 93rd entrance to Central Park. Bring a folding chair or blanket.
Made for Each Other by Monica Bauer
Featuring John Fico
Directed by John Fitzgibbon
Presented by Stage Left Studio