My Old Lady | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

My Old Lady 

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MY OLD LADY, Apple Tree Theatre. The first act of Israel Horovitz's play is a sitcom, the second a melodrama, but both are liberally studded with "I don't know why I'm telling you all this" comments--the lazy playwright's excuse for exposition. If there's a through line, director Brian Russell hasn't found it: after intermission, what had seemed a moderately amusing Neil Simon-style romp about a man who inherits his father's Paris apartment turns into the same character's wrenching confrontation with his mother's suicide, his own alcoholism, and the fading possibility of love in his life.

Though the three performers are pleasant enough comic presences, act one never quite jells. But in act two Gene Weygandt blows the roof off with his sexy, driven portrayal of the tormented protagonist, embodying whatever it is that makes self-destructive bad boys irresistible. Banal lines like "You are so beautiful" become fresh and thrilling, and Weygandt expertly demonstrates just how unnecessary dialogue is to a well-played love scene. Ann Whitney as the apartment's nonagenarian tenant and Barbara Robertson as her daughter support him well in their far less meaty roles, but Weygandt is the only real reason to see this bizarre cross between The Goodbye Girl and Lone Star.

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