As temperatures rise and our tempers improve, there’s something so relaxing about spending an afternoon on a sun-drenched screened-in porch with two fabulous actresses.
And that’s what David Auburn’s Broadway play “summer, 1976”, which opens Tuesday night at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre, toasts lavishly, with the indomitable Laura Linney and Jessica Hecht.
It’s not like you’re outside, even if Japhy Weideman’s bright lights make you feel warmly like you are, or that the show is all smiles.
One hour and 30 minutes without intermission. At the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre, 261 West 47th Street.
Diana and Alice, two women who remember their time on the Ohio State University campus in Columbus, Ohio, where they became close decades earlier, are quietly dissatisfied.
The budding friends helped each other through trauma while hiding embarrassing secrets.
But the simple two-handed message, that “people aren’t just one thing,” is a powerful statement, even in a play that is apolitical and doesn’t try, like most Broadway shows, to be epic or momentous.
In a way, the modesty of the story allows the emotion and meaning to suddenly catch up with you.
And, if you’ve seen Netflix’s “Ozark,” you know that Laura Linney can be sneaky. She plays Diana, a single mother and teacher with a sophisticated taste in art, literature, and architecture.
She claims to have “family money” and spends accordingly.
He’s also the kind of pinky person you initially loathe, who speaks in pretentious “jejune”s and “gestalts” but whose weirdness you come to appreciate and even admire.
Diana meets another mother named Alice, played by Hecht, who wears a flowing flowered dress (costumes by Linda Cho) and acts like a hippie despite leading a repressed and traditional life, in a “nanny’s co-op”.
In one such move from island campus life, college parents have formed a group that trades tokens for babysitting duties.
At first, the pair tease each other and choose the names for their daughters, Gretchen and Holly, but gradually become close confidantes and shed the layers.
Auburn’s work is told primarily in monologues for the audience; only rarely do the two speak directly to each other or embody another character.
And only a few major events happen during 90 minutes.
What hits the hardest, really, are the little hardships, especially for Diana, since single mothers were treated even worse during the ’70s than they are now.
One scene, in which a deep feeling for Hecht helps Linney’s character through a crippling migraine, is amazing.
The actresses are an ideal personality match. Linney brings her ability to be extraordinarily kind and ruthless to the mysterious Diana, while Hecht’s expressive voice oscillates between peculiar and agonizing.
The overall effect of their performances and of Auburn’s play, directed by Daniel Sullivan, is that of an independent film on the stage, as wine, laughter, and unexpected companions become the only ways to endure the hardships of the world. home.
But the playwright of “Test” drags out his finale, at first with a clever bait-and-switch, and then with a wordy “OK, you get your point.”
By the time he starts trying to land a hit, oddly enough, he has less than one.
Still, there are worse people to hang around with than Linney and Hecht.