Two’s a Crowd
Comedienne Rita Rudner returns to the legit stage in a musical comedy she co-wrote about a room mix-up in Las Vegas during a national poker tournament.
If the shortest distance between two points is a straight line, there is nothing short nor straight about Two’s a Crowd, a new, meandering Off Broadway musical comedy that fails to amount to much. And even though it’s less that two hours long–including an intermission–it feels like it’s much longer.
The play’s set-up is about as familiar as room service when two total strangers in their 60’s are assigned the same hotel room in a Vegas hotel with no other rooms available in Sin City due to a poker convention. What happens proves as predictable–and gooey, sentimental–as you would expect after the first few minutes.
Co-written by and starring Rita Rudner (who is not only a playwright and performer but also an author, film writer, producer and director, with many TV appearances to her credit), Two’s a Crowd suggests that it’s creator has run out of original ideas and is recycling old ones–not only others, but her own. It really lands with a thud, which also may have a lot to do with trying to present it as a musical.
Rudner may have gotten her start in show business by performing in Broadway musicals of the 1970’s–including Promises, Promises, Annie, Mack and Mabel and even Follies–but at this point, she should probably stick with the stand-up comedy she’s also famous for, given long stints in Vegas.
Nor is there anything distinctive or distinguished about the music by Jason Feddy, who roams around the upper stage like a wandering minstrel, plunking a guitar and singing his own generic lyrics, which do nothing to contribute to the predictable story.
Back to the setting in a Vegas hotel, where Wendy (Rudner) meets Tom (Robert Yacko), who’s a “poker-playing, dirt-biking electrician-philosopher,” according to Wendy. It’s harder to say what defines the non-specific Wendy, except that she’s from Cleveland and unhappily married.
It’s all extremely sit-comish. Consider Tom asking Wendy, “Do you have any shampoo? They forgot to put any in [the bathroom] and I just washed my hair with mouthwash.” Eventually, Wendy tells Tom, “We emotionally lubricated each other,” which is more than one can say they do for us.
With Kelly Holden Bashar playing both Louise (the “VP of Hotel Operations”) and Lili (the Hotel housekeeper) and Brian Lohmann playing “various” characters (including Gus, Wendy’s husband), Two’s a Crowd has been co-written and directed by Rudner’s husband, Martin Bergman, and it smacks of the incestuousness such an arrangement entails. It needed an outsider to try and get some things right. The conventional scenic and lighting design have both been done by Tessa Ann Bookwalter.
Two’s a Crowd (through August 25, 2019)
Impro Theatre, in association with Ritmar Productions
59E59 Theaters, 59 East 59th Street, in Manhattan
For tickets, call 646-892-7999 or visit https://www.59e59.org
Running time: one hour and 50 minutes including one intermission
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