|The Concord Journal|
|'Isn't It Romantic' a poignant look at two women friends|
By Mary Ann Faughnan
The Concord Players opened a three- weekend run at 51 Walden St. Friday night with a fast-paced production of Wendy Wasserstein's "Isn't It Romantic."
This play takes a light, yet occasionally poignant look at the lives of two women friends just a few years after college graduation
Set in New York City in 1983, the play depcits the lives of Janie Blumberg, and aspiring free-lance writer, and her childhood friend Harriet Cornwall, a recent Harvard MBA graduate. The two women struggle to strike a balance between their own and their parents' and boyfriends' expectations for careers and love lives.
The production is stylishily mounted with clever sets that often consist only of black and white silhouettes: the New York City skyline, a tree in Central Park, a jogger, diners at the Four Seasons. These two dimensional images contrast with the problems of Janie and Harriet, conveying the feeling that life works smoothly for the rest of the world.
As played by Kate Borger, Janie is slightly waif-like but possessed of a wry sense of humor, which she needs to cope with her well-meaning, but overbearing parents. Her father, Simon (played with sweet fatherly attention by Dick Levinson,) keeps dropping hints about having her enter the family envelope-making business, and her mother, Tasha, tosses out advice left and right while demonstrating her latest aerobics class moves. In the role of Tasha, Louise Hannegan was hilarious. She combined the right comic antics with a sensitive reading of her lines to steal the show.
Although Janie's father introduces his non-English-speaking cab driver, Vladimir (Woody Satz,) as a potential suitor, Janie ends up falling for a doctor. As played by Larry Lickteig, Dr. Marty Sterling provides all the earnestness and outward success that Janie's parents could ask for. And the sort of patronizing detachment that ultimately scares Janie away.
As Harriet, Stefanie Cloutier presented an energetic, ambitious young businesswoman who puts her career ahead of her heart - for a time. Her married boyfriend (played with just the right amount of sleaze by Richard Clark) leaves her feeling the same loneliness that she knew growing up as the only daughter of super-successful business executive Lillian Cornwall (portrayed with wit and sophistication by Dee Boreth.)
During the course of the play, Janie and Harriet are forced to come to terms with their feelings about love and success, and with the fact that, even though close friends, they might not share the same definition of happiness.
Friday night's performance moved along at a fast clip, which maintained the overall lightness of the play, but also tended to blunt its humor and feeling on occasion. In particular, the younger actors tended to breeze through their scenes together without allowing sufficient time for real interaction between their characters.
During the second act dinner party at Harriet's apartment, for example, the couples delivered their lines so quickly that they barely reacted to each other's words, making the scene a bit difficult to follow.
Overall, however, this is a fine production. The lighting, costumes, and stage direction should also be complimented for their contribution to a smooth and professional performance.