Monday, May 20, 2002

Yesterday, May 19, I went to see "Long Island Sound," a previously unproduced play by Noel Coward being done by TACT - The Actors Company Theatre - at 214 W 54 St. I went mainly because a lead in the play - the lead in the play, I suppose you'd say - and a leader in TACT is a friend, Simon Jones. My expectations were moderate. The play had been given one of those odd Ben Brantley reviews that didn't sound right, that were faintly off-putting and somehow skewed, as if the critic's real beef wasn't what he was saying. In Brantley's case, let me hazard a guess: as a member of the Times' notorious "Mauve Mafia," he didn't like the broad manner - very 1947 and very Noel Coward 1947 - in which the gay characters are played. The play is done very "period" - that is a good deal of its charm and a fair part of its point.
Well, let me tell you! It was mar-ve-lous! As marvelous as the party about which Coward composed his famous song after experiencing the Long Island country weekend that also went into the writing of "Long Island Sound."
This is as good a comedy as "Noises Off," and certainly more expertly and wittily done than the current heavy-footed revival of Michael Frayn's famous farce. The premise is sure-fire. An homme moyen sensuel finds himself precipitated into a web of entanglements and egotism populated by a lot of entirely self-absorbed upper-crust types. The acting is expert (12 of the 19 in the cast have acted): the lines don't get swallowed, the time is expert, the gestural work just so.
If I from time to time regret no longer doing the column, it's because I can't give a leg up to something like "Long Island Sound" which gets overlooked while crap gets promoted by the mincing jackasses the Times has installed as gatekeepers. There are nine performances left. See one of them ! See two! A bargain at twice the price!
212 645 TACT.