Adelaide Fringe 2011
Chapter Two is a humorous and moving look at second love. It is an enjoyable and well-staged production that, while not without its flaws, manages to entertain despite its long running time.
George (Andrew Clark), has recently lost his wife of twelve years. They were, by all accounts, the perfect couple, and George is struggling to move on. Jennie (Sharon Pitardi) has recently gotten divorced from a Gus, her layabout husband, and is also not looking for a relationship. Leo (Aldo Longobardi), is George’s garrulous and carefree younger brother, who is having his own marital difficulties. Rounding out the foursome is Faye (Lana Adamuszek), Jennie’s best friend, and in her own unhappy marriage. The plot follows George and Jennie as they meet, fall in love, and then try to come to terms with the fact that George still hasn’t fully dealt with the death of his first wife.
Having never had an opportunity to see a Neil Simon play live, despite loving a number of the film adaptations of his work and original screenplays (especially The Goodbye Girl with Richard Dreyfuss and Marsha Mason). it was fantastic that this play lived up to expectations and didn’t disappoint. Any media (whether play, book, film etc.) that can make me both laugh and get teary-eyed in its duration, tends to be a winner elements which are definitely present in Chapter Two. A lot of this play’s success rests on its funny and poignant script, but the actors also did justice to the superbly drawn characters. There were some occasional stumbles over the wordy and clever language, especially with the shaky New York accents, which the actors had to adopt. However once they settled in, the accents were more even and less distracting. A few of the jokes fell flat, but there would soon be another that had the audience laughing. The set had a lot of detail which really helped to set the scene. Some of the music was a little incongruous, especially “Under My Skin” music at the beginning and end of the show, which didn’t exactly set the scene for the 70’s time period effectively. Overall, however each element of the production was really strong.
Initially I was apprehensive about the running time of this play. It was far longer than anything I had seen so far at the Fringe, at 2 hours and 45 minutes. And, while it could have been pared down a little, this may have caused it to lose a lot of its depth. It was certainly engrossing for the entire duration and the cabaret-style seating helped, allowing audience members to bring food and drink in with them to enjoy while watching. There was also a raffle to keep them entertained during the interval. I personally got really emotionally drawn in with this play.
This play wasn’t perfect and despite a classic script and credible actors, there were still the flaws, which have been mentioned and are somewhat minor. It is very worth your time to see this performance and why not bring a plate with your friends and settle in to see a play by one of the greatest living playwrights.