About the first I was tepid:
“Rose’s Dilemma” is worth seeing, albeit for a sad reason: Mr. Simon is 76 and in fragile health, and my guess is that he intended it as his farewell to the theater. The self-pitying tone of the play, which tells the story of Rose Steiner (Patricia Hodges), an aging, hopelessly blocked playwright who is haunted by the imagined ghost of Walsh McLaren, her old lover (John Cullum), leaves little doubt of that. “You sound like a caricature of yourself that fell off the wall at Sardi’s,” Rose tells Walsh at one point. I winced, suspecting that Mr. Simon’s satirical gun was aimed at his own forehead.
Unlike Rose, Mr. Simon is still in there pitching, but he’s lost his curveball. “With Neil Simon,” the playwright David Ives once told me, “you can sort of walk out of the theater and hum the jokes, like humming the tunes from a musical.” Alas, the jokes in the first act of “Rose’s Dilemma” are tuneless, though their metronomic rhythm–setup, payoff, setup, payoff–keeps clacking away relentlessly. That’s the problem: The first act feels like a comedy, only it isn’t funny….
About the second I wasn’t:
[T]his revival of “The Regard of Flight,” Mr. Irwin’s 1982 spoof of postmodern theater and its malcontents, runs through Jan. 25. That gives you plenty of time to see it at least once, and preferably twice. Not only is it a hoot and a half, but Mr. Irwin has tacked on a brief afterpiece in which the three characters of “The Regard of Flight” grapple ineptly with life in the age of e-mail and cell phones. It’s superfluous–the original show is perfect–but it does give you 20 extra minutes in the company of Mr. Irwin and his droll colleagues, and that’s good enough for me…
No link, so to read the whole thing, buy this morning’s Journal, turn to the “Weekend Journal” section, and regale yourself with a wide variety of arts and culture coverage, all for a dollar. It’s the best deal in town.