Monday, May 20, 2013


With one foot in New York and the other in Connecticut, playwright A.R. Gurney, affectionately known as Pete, is a prolific writer of plays, dozens in fact, that center on a group of privileged people he knows well:  White Anglo-Saxon Protestants or WASPS.  The morals and manners of WASPS has occupied him for decades, and he usually explores their behavior, peculiarities and customs, with a background of liquid libations or cocktails readily to hand.

Square One Theatre in Stratford is cordially and formally inviting you to weekend performances, until Saturday June 1, of one of Gurney's latest offerings, the quietly comic and charming "Black Tie."

Curtis and Mim are preparing to host the rehearsal dinner tonight and the wedding tomorrow of their son Teddy.  The site is not exactly their choice, but the prospective bride and groom's, a remote and slightly shabby hotel in the Adirondack Mountains, where they first met.  How to maintain the appropriate level of decorum that Curtis feels the occasion warrants is quickly in question.

Curtis, a dapper and conservative David Victor, is a victim of his father's upbringing.  He knows "proper" when it knocks on his door.  He has chosen to honor his father's memory by wearing the older gentleman's prized evening attire, a tuxedo that  has seen many a formal gathering.

Mim, a supportive wife in the soothing hands of Janet Rathert, will dress accordingly, even though she questions how casual all the other guests may be.  Will it set the wrong tone to look too stylish?

While Curtis is busy "dressing to the nines," with everything from pearl studs to suspenders to cummerbund, the ghost of his father, a debonair and  arbiter of propriety John Bachelder, appears to Curtis to check on the proceedings.  He deems the hotel tacky but does approve of Curtis' attire, a "dinner jacket," rather than a tuxedo, if you please.

As grandfather of the groom, he feels he needs to assure that Curtis' toast at the dinner is up to snuff and freely offers his advice, point by point.  When he learns that Teddy is swimming in the hotel pool, without clothes and with both sexes, and that his bride, Maya, is not only not of their class and status, not a  WASP, but culturally diverse, part African-American, Vietnamese and Peruvian, he manages to keep his cool.

Periodically their daughter Elsie, a pert and practical Alisson Wood, arrives to deliver up-to-the-minute details on the current crisis and finally Teddy , an assertive but confused Jim Buffone, bursts in to drop his own bombshell.

The delightful interplay between the generations makes for an enjoyable ninety minutes of conversation and confrontation.  Artistic director Tom Holehan is a master at keeping the pace smooth, despite all the ripples of contention that threaten Curtis ever giving his congratulatory toast.

For tickets ($20, seniors $19), call Square One Theatre, 2422 Main Street, Stratford at 203-375-8778 or online at  Performances are Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.,with a special twilight matinee at  4 p.m. on Saturday, June 1.

On Saturday, June 8 at 4 p.m., Square One Theatre will present a true silent movie from 1927, "Wings," starring Clara Bow, Charles "Buddy" Rogers and Gary Cooper at the theatre as a fundraiser for the William A. Barry Scholarship Fund.  A live piano will accompany the action. Tickets are $20, or $15 for Square One subscribers.  Make checks payable to Friends of Square One and mail to Hinda Wolf, 397A Ottawa Lane, Stratford, CT 06614 or call 203-385-3855.

Will Curtis be mistaken for a waiter if he wears his"dinner jacket" as Elise cautions him or will Teddy and Maya even reach the altar?  Let A. R.Gurney play flower girl and surprise you with the bouquet.

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