By Tulis McCall
The good news is that this show is ANYTHING but morbid. The bad news is that it was just three short nights at Pangea.
These two old friends, Austin Pendleton and Barbara Bleier, talented and skilled performers both of them, under the guidance of Barbara Maier’s direction and accompanied by Paul Greenwood, Pianist and AJ Gustern on guitar are just about the best thing to cure what ails you, or us, or us all. You know what I mean. You know those blues you get when the day is going along just fine and then your mind wanders to politics and you want to lean out your window and scream….
These two have seen it all, because they have lived long and well. And they choose to spend their time reveling in the joys of Old Friends. The premise, in case they needed one, is that these two were once married and now are each other’s nearly best friend. She calls him when a romance goes sour, as they always seem to do, and he comes running to sit with her in a bar until 2 talking about life and ideas and glories and mistakes.
The musical choices were superb and beautifully balanced. And many of them were unknown to this writer. Small Day Tomorr0w (Fran Landesman and Bob Dorough) is a choice piece of business for a person looking for a one night stand in the most elegant manner. Beautiful Mistake (Amanda Mcbroom and John Bucchino ) sets us up for the hilarious surprise of How Could You Believe Me (Alan J. Lerner and Burton Lane). The banter is genuine and when they are joined by their moonlighting Couples Counselor (Barbara ) they take advantage of her expertise with a couple’s iconic lament – There (Richard Maltby and David Shire). And in a final jab at love gone sour, Pendleton gives us a new and out-of-the box interpretation of Maria (Stephen Sondheim and Leonard Bernstein).
As the evening winds up, they close with Our Time (Stephen Sondheim) that comes across not only as a salute to each other but an anthem for the rest of us living in disbelief that the White House is soon to be handed over to vandals. Courage, these two tell us. COURAGE!!!
‘Tis The Season To Be Morbid – with Austin Pendleton, Barbara Bleier; Directed by Guest Barbara Maier
For a list of Pangea’s month of protest click HERE