Sally (Jodi Markell), a woman of a certain age, is having a party in her luxe apartment overlooking Boston Harbor. We spend our time – who wouldn’t? – on a large, leveled, topiary-planted terrace under the stars. (Bravo Set Designer Steve Kemp and Lighting Designer David Lander.) Boats, water, and, from behind sliding glass doors, a genial gathering gently break silence. (Sound Design Obadiah Eaves.)
The hostess is matchmaking. Ivy-educated, Boston-bred, conservative Austin (Laurence Lau) is set up with flirty, adventurous, four-times-married Ruth (Barbara Garrick) visiting from Las Vegas. Both are attractive, articulate, and lonely.
Barbara Garrick, Laurence Lau, Jodie Markell, Liam Craig
It turns out Austin and Ruth met many years ago on Capri, he as a Naval Officer and she a vacationing college coed. She remembers the occasion in detail because Austin was so convinced something terrible would happen to him, he refused an invitation to her bed. The two are attracted. Ruth gives him clues until he ruefully recalls what happened. “I can’t get involved because of my problem,” she quotes his telling her. Austin’s feeling of foreboding remains.
They try to reestablish common ground, but it’s extremely difficult to have a private conversation with guests wandering out to the terrace and sociably intruding. Changing costumes and wigs, Markell and Liam Craig play a wide variety of characters. Many are cliché, few appealing. Of the bunch, ex-philosophy professor, addictive smoker Jimmy and Austin’s stiff-backed best friend since Groton are Craig’s distinctive portrayals. Sally and Ruth’s bohemian friend, Judith are Markell’s.
Liam Craig, Jodie Markell, Laurence Lau
Things are seldom what they seem. Though he looks like the whole package, he’s unstable. Meanwhile, she’s separated, not divorced, from an abusive codependent husband. Austin and Ruth are so close to connection, when…Once again he hesitates at the pivotal moment. “People don’t change at our age.” She walks out the door. Will he follow?
Actors Laurence Lau and Barbara Garrick are well matched. Both inhabit their characters physically as well as emotionally. What becomes a highly frustrating situation is sympathetic and believable.
Barbara Garrick, Jodie Markell, Liam Craig
Director Jonathan Silverstein handles his principal couple well, but the others are hit or miss. This has something, though by no means everything to do with sketchy writing and briefness of appearance.
Not one of Gurney’s better efforts.
Jennifer Paar’s Costumes are highly apt.
Photos by Carol Rosegg
Opening: Barbara Garrick and Laurence Lau
Keen Company presents
Later Life by A.R. Gurney
Directed by Jonathan Silverstein
The Clurman Theatre
410 West 42nd Street
Through April 14,2018