Today is Friday, meaning that this morning’s Wall Street Journal contains my weekly drama column. I wrote about three shows, two on Broadway and one near it: Neil Simon’s The Odd Couple, Wendy Wasserstein’s Third, and Rick Najera’s Latinologues. In all three cases, my feelings were mixed:
Instead of Oscar, the slovenly sportswriter, [Nathan] Lane should have played the maddeningly fussy Felix–and I bet he knows it, too. Maybe that’s why he spends the first act channeling Groucho Marx. Not until after intermission does he find his own path into the part, and even then you keep thinking about how Walter Matthau read the same lines in the movie….
Were Mr. Simon’s insert-flap-A-in-slot-B jokes ever funny? I remember chortling at them as a boy, but now they mostly leave me cold. In fact, the whole first act of “The Odd Couple” feels less like a comedy than a set of instructions for making an audience laugh….
Wendy Wasserstein, who has been absent from the New York stage for the past few years, has returned with “Third,” now playing at Lincoln Center’s Mitzi Newhouse Theater. I wish it were good. I wanted it to be. Ms. Wasserstein, who won a Pulitzer in 1989 for “The Heidi Chronicles,” is one of our best theatrical journalists, a keen-eared social observer with a knack for summing up cultural watershed moments like the coming of age of the baby boomers and putting them on stage to memorable effect. But “Third” is neither memorable nor convincing in its portrayal of a radical feminist beset by midlife doubts. Instead, it’s sentimental to a fault–and false at its squishy-soft core….
Why is it that most ethnic humor, were it to be spoken out loud and in public by someone not of the ethnic group in question, would be considered a hate crime? In Rick Najera’s “Latinologues,” an evening of standup comedy monologues spliced together to simulate a four-person play, every Latino-related clich