Review: “Morning’s at Seven”

Paul Osborn’s Morning’s at Seven (playing at St. Clement’s) is the most James Thurberish play I know and it isn’t by Thurber. Some people are charmed by Thurber. Some are immune. (Some have no idea who he was.) I am charmed.  It’s an ensemble piece in which all of the parts are rewarding to play, and they are played by an ensemble that includes more than a few stars who know how to support each other (Lindsay Crouse, Dan Lauria, Alma Cuervo, John Rubinstein and Tony Roberts among them). I think the accomplishment of creating so many characters whom we get to know and follow has been underestimated by some of the current critics. As a playwright, I know how damn hard it is to put that many distinct people on the stage and keep them all alive.

This strikes me as a comedy of scale. By that I mean that the controversies and issues in the characters’ lives are mostly small by the audience’s standards, but because the characters’ lives themselves are small, what we might see as molehills loom to them like mountains. I don’t want to spoil surprises in the story, but I find it hilarious that the resolution of the plot ends up hinging on how much it would cost to install an extra bathroom. From this one factor, a series of decisions are triggered that restore peace to this little enclave.

If this sounds whimsical, I suppose it is. And if your taste doesn’t run to whimsey, maybe the play isn’t for you. But there is a toughness under the surface which suggests that (despite the old saying) for some, the unexamined life is a blessing, because sometimes, if you examine yours too rigorously, you discover what is lacking.  And that you can’t do a fucking thing about it.

About dgsweet

I write for and about theater. I spent a number of years as a resident playwright of a theater in Chicago which put up 14 of my plays, and I still think of Chicago as my primary theatrical home, though I actually live in New York. I serve on the Council of the Dramatists Guild. Between plays, I write books, most notably SOMETHING WONDERFUL RIGHT AWAY (about Second City), THE O'NEILL (about the O'Neill Center) and THE DRAMATIST'S TOOLKIT (a text on playwriting craft). I also occasionally perform a solo show called YOU ONLY SHOOT THE ONES YOU LOVE. I enjoy visiting theaters outside of New York. I can be reached at dgsweet@aol.com.
This entry was posted in New York, off-Broadway, playwriting, theater and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Review: “Morning’s at Seven”

  1. Richard L Warren says:

    Every post makes me want to be back in NYC. It’s starting to hurt.

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