The Internet Theater Magazine of Reviews, Features, Annotated Listings
A CurtainUp Review
Two's A Crowd
They claim you can't always tell a book by its cover, or in this case, trust your first impressions when a man and a woman are caught in an awkward situation. However, with astute veteran comedian Rita Rudner as writer and co-star, you might expect a laugh-filled couple of hours instead of a predictable rollout of familiar one-liners and a sit-com plot.
A well-dressed, crisp and witty social observer, Rudner has written books, performed in leading clubs and television and yes, she is funny in an accessibly classy way. However, Two's A Crowd, a one hour, 50 minute production, seems oddly out of touch with the zeitgeist today.
Rudner has admitted that the play was directed for audiences much like the ones she entertains in club rooms, usually older and female. She has worked in Las Vegas showrooms since 2016 and is said to be the longest-running solo comedy show in the history of Las Vegas but here, she delivers a litter of laughs with, for some reason, music.
Two's A Crowd is set in a middling Las Vegas hotel, (not one of the splashy spots where Rudner worked)&mdash the kind with inadequate services like double-booking and ignored room service orders. The scapegoats are two new guests, Wendy (Rita Rudner) and Tom (Robert Yacko), who are both given the same room, same time, same day. Oops, sorry, computer glitch. Of course, they complain but the hotel is totally booked and they decide to make the most of it.
First to arrive is Wendy, 61 and newly divorced. A mid-westerner, she is taking a brave new step forward with this trip to Las Vegas. Well-dressed and so meticulous that she brings her own sheets, she plans to hit the Aria Mall and outlets.
Suddenly Tom enters the room, dragging his carry-on and wearing a faded, once garish shirt, cargo shorts and flip flops. Also single, he is a grieving widower, ready to move on. He chose Las Vegas because of a poker tournament. Poker, of all things! Wendy snaps,"Why do the people who play it look so unhealthy? What's the difference between a straight flush and a full house, and when do you flush?"
Except for both being single and from Cleveland, Wendy and Tom have little in common. Rudner and Yacko, however, present believable characters. With taut physical expressiveness and dry quips, Rudner succeeds as chic Wendy, well-coiffed and uptight. Yacko plays Tom as accomodating but with limits. They share the usual back-and-forth snappy insults. Says Wendy, "There is a way to behave in a situation like this, and you have deliberately ignored those parameters."
Tom snaps, "Sorry, lady. I didn't get my copy of The Menopause Monthly."
And so it goes. Slowly, they find a way to get along and even help each other share and cope with their current emotional difficulties and new disappointments. After a long first day ends with her shopping bags full and his poker tournament a flop, they call up for dinner with Dom Perignon and Duckhorn Merlot. Can you guess how this all works out? Probably you've seen it before.
The leads are supported by two versatile actors who take on various roles. Kelly Holden Basha as Louise Zappia, the brisk "VP of Hotel Operations" and Lili, a sprightly housekeeper with an mid-European accent. Brian Lohmann plays Wendy's ex-husband Gus, who suddenly shows up. He also plays a swishy room service waiter with stereotypical sarcastic quips.
For some reason, Rudner and Bergman decided to enliven the story with music. A trio led by guitarist/vocalist Jason Feddy includes Eli Zoller on bass guitarist/keyboards/mandolin and percussionist,Julian Bridges. Set and lighting designer Tessa Ann Bookwalter added an upper level corner space for the little band with a loud sound, including a staircase where Feddy occasionally descends to sing and play one of his dozen original country/rock/blues songs. The songs are slotted in emphatic spots. "If Only" underlines Gus' plea for Wendy's forgiveness and "Lily's Lament" expresses her disgust with hotel guests. ("If you are a person or gorilla, You have the manners of Attila!") It's not Cole Porter but Bashar sings it with over-accented pizzazz. (Note: Did the unnamed costume designer give Feddy an unkempt '80's rocker look or does Fedder just have his own grab-anything dress code?)
Two's A Crowd is light entertainment for a hot summer night or a cable rom-com, but on this stage, as the closing song goes, "Shit Happens."
Search CurtainUp in the box below
Two's A Crowd Book: Rita Rudman and Martin Bergman
Director: Martin Bergman
Music and Lyrics: Jason Feddy
Cast: Rita Rudner, Robert Yacko, Kelly Holden Bashar, Brian Lohmann
Band: Musical director/lead guitarist/vocalist Jason Feddy, bass guitarist/keyboards/mandolin Eli Zoller, Percussionist Julian Bridges Set and Lighting Design: Tessa Ann Bookwalter
Sound Design: Jonathan Burke
Sound Engineer: Becca Stoll
Production Stage Manager: John Concannon
Produced: Impro Theatre, in association with Ritmar Productions, Inc.
Theatre: 59E59 Theaters (59 East 59th St. NYC). Theater A.
Tickets: Tickets $25 to $70. Members $49. Box office 646-892-7999. Visit www.59E59.org.
Performances: Tues-Fri at 7pm, Sat at 2pm and 7pm, Sun at 2pm. Added performance 7/14 at 7pm.
Preview: 7/13/19. Opens: 7/21/19. Closes: 8/25/19.
Review by Elizabeth Ahlfors based on press performance 07/19/19
Highlight one of the responses below and click "copy" or"CTRL+C"
Paste the highlighted text into the subject line (CTRL+ V):
Feel free to add detailed comments in the body of the email. . .also the names and emails of any friends to whom you'd like us to forward a copy of this review.
For a feed to reviews and features as they are posted at http://curtainupnewlinks.blogspot.com to your reader
Curtainup at Facebook . . . Curtainup at Twitter