NY Theater Review Sandi Durell
He’s looking at himself in the mirror a lot, whistling with a little skip – what could that mean? According to Ollie Espenshade’s friend Mabel, it can mean only one thing: he’s having an affair! This charming throwback to 1946, by Pulitzer Prize winning playwright, satirist George Kelly, is a giggle and a tickle into the lives of the upper crust – their infidelities, their weaknesses.
Ollie (a very proper and sentimental Kristin Griffith) has a different kind of weakness – she’s an incurable romantic who attends weddings she finds in the newspapers, weeping and enjoying every moment. Her husband, Paul (a jolly Cliff Bemis), has fallen in love with a female osteopath with whom he’s been having an affair for over 20 years, spending a lot of time on the “golf course.”
Mabel Wentz (Cynthia Darlow, who talks at machine gun speed) is the humorous schemer-yenta, who devises a plan with another friend to have Paul followed in order to gather the details for Ollie. Mabel relishes every moment of it and throws a lot of great cynical lines.
Then there’s Ollie and Paul’s daughter Penny (Victoria Mack) who is having her own marital problems with husband Vernon (Sean Patrick Hopkins) because she believes marriage is an arrestment of the spirit, as she attempts to be a modern day woman walking down the path to self-realization. They have a 3 year old son they call “Punchie” (I’ll let you figure that one out). But ideals change for Penny who is now faced with her Papa’s infidelity. And, let us not forget the maid Anna (Patricia Kilgariff) who isn’t fond of marriage either.
They’re all very civilized and barely show much emotion as if these matters occur daily. Ho hum!
Set in an upscale apartment with mirrored walls, crystal chandeliers and elegant fabric furniture and drapes (scenic design Vicki R. Davis), this talky comedy is charmingly portrayed by its actors who are lovingly costumed in the period by Andrea Varga.
But sometimes romanticism can go just a little too far after Ollie and Paul divorce and a wedding date is in the offering for Paul and his female doctor. (no spoiler here)
The Fatal Weakness runs thru October 26th at The Mint Theater, 311 West 43 Street, NYC – (866) 811-4111 running time 2 hours 20 minutes, 2 intermissions.
Photos: Richard Termine