Thursday, October 30, 2008

Review - 6 Dance Lessons in 6 Weeks

Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks
by Richard Alfieri
directed by Arthur Allan Seidelman
Falcon Theatre
through November 23
Two character plays about love and friendship over time like Same Time, Next Year by Bernard Slade and Driving Miss Daisy by Alfred Uhry are A-list treasures. Their lack of pretension and characters' genuine sense of humor make them linger quite joyously in the mind.
Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks by Richard Alfieri is not on the same level. Many of the reactions are sentimental, the outcome relies heavily on illness and sympathy to keep the two characters connected, but despite its flaws, the play is enormously entertaining and appealing with the right actors. In The Falcon's current production, Constance Towers could not be more elegant nor Jason Graae more hilarious, and so this mounting hits the mark.
What I like best about this play is the frank way that each opens up to the other - not at first, as they both are too insecure to strip away the masks of convenience. But after a period of adjustment, and all lies are accounted for, the two start to enjoy each other's company and confide about the past. That's nice. The woman gains a son - she had abandoned her daughter in time of need because of her husband's pigheadedness... and the man, a second mother. He had lost his own mother to Alzheimer's Disease and one true boyfriend to pancreatic cancer. What results is a relationship that satisfies a series of needs, not surely the best kind of friendship possible, but it is sweet and assuredly comforting, especially for the woman near the end of her life.
Graae is insanely energetic, devilishly amusing and feverishly sensitive as Michael Minetti. Towers is delicate, yet strong-willed and gives Lily Harrison a sterling and caring presence. Together they make music in and out of dance. Seidelman, the original director, obviously knows the piece inside out at this point and effectively paces the highs and lows, and choreographer Kay Cole wisely does not overdo the steps. Set design by Eric J. Larson of a Florida highrise apartment has a simple beauty like the sunsets in the play, and Miss Towers stunningly wears designer Helen Butler's lovely outfits.
4 out of 5 stars


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