By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
Scene 3 changes locales to the richer digs of the Brewster-Wrights, whose kitchen has more conveniences and less soul. Here is where Ayckbourn completes his emotional transactions, as we see the rise of the Hopcrofts, the demise of the Brewster-Wrights and the Jacksons just trying to hold their ground. Yes, Ayckbourn is writing about the balance of power in marital relationships, how it shifts between spouses when a crisis breaches confidence. Yes, he is writing about the ability of money to buy social standing, but not social grace. Yes, he is writing about how marriage murders individuality, particularly when one spouse dominates the other to the point of abuse. And his dialogue is crisp, his repartee clever, his farcical situations humorous. But none of this feels exactly fresh or refreshing. If not for the superb cast, tautly directed by veteran Niki Flacks, it is doubtful the play would be as entertaining as it is. Absurd Person Singularis early Ayckbourn (he has written 60 plays), but that doesn't excuse characters who are drawn too flat and seem more representational than real. And while broadness is good for humor, it makes the work seem slight and insignificant.
Which is, of course, what makes it such appealing holiday fare.
Julie Delpy Rocks New York
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