Image: Judith Ivey and Estelle Parsons. Photo: Carol Rosegg
What Happens When Four Women Who Loved the Same Man Get Together? Not What You Might Expect
By Lauren Yarger
Just throw out reality for about two hours and 15 minutes and you’ll be able to enjoy four actresses having a lot of fun on stage in Israel Horovitz’s bizarre comedy Out of the Mouths of Babes getting an extended Off-Broadway run at the Cherry Lane Theatre in Greenwich Village.
Headlining are two theater legends, Estelle Parsons, who has five Tony award nominations (the latest for her compelling performance in Velocity of Autumn) and an Oscar under her belt, and Judith Ivey, a Tony winner and multiple nominee too. They play two of the ex lovers/wives who show up in Paris for the funeral of the man they once loved.
Evelyn (Parsons), the second wife, lets herself into her former apartment (designed by Neil Patel) with its lofty ceilings and walls full of artwork only to be joined by his former lover, Evvie (Ivey) whom the man saw during his marriage to Evelyn. If that isn’t enough awkwardness to go around, they soon are joined by two others: another wife, Janice (Angelina Fiordellisi), who once tried to commit suicide by jumping out of one of the large windows overlooking the canal when she learned of the man’s infidelity to her, and Marie-Belle (Francesca Choy-Kee) who is the current occupant of the apartment, and who apparently still is receiving visits from her lover – the man they all adored -- in ghostly form.
Again, I stress that the plot is off-the-charts ridiculous, with the women joining together to keep Janice from taking the plunge again and listening as Janice and her tickle-happy ghost lover get it on in the other room. They say some very repetitive dialogue in a mediocre script that appears to have been written just to allow characters to say certain lines. A lot of those lines are pretty funny, but I am not sure they all would be without these amazing actresses saying them. Parsons and Ivey seem to get laughter from lines that aren’t really funny too, just by the way they deliver them.
The multi-generations represented by the four women tell us that the deceased spent most of his 100 years collecting women. And despite his infidelity, they all seem to still be carrying a torch for him. Marie-Belle, the youngest and hippest of them all, is totally without any jealousy and proposes that the women all share the apartment in a sort of living tribute to him….
So the subject matter isn’t exactly what we hope for when it comes to finally having a play on stage that has four female characters, and several more mature ones to boot. They are all professionals in some way – Evelyn was a journalist, Evvie is a Hollywood screenwriter and Janice is an academic, but all these women seem to be able to do is fawn over their former lover who doesn’t sound like he was such a great guy….
Getting to see Parsons and Ivey interact makes it worthwhile, however. It also is nice to see Fiordellisi, celebrating her 20th year as Cherry Lane’s producing artistic director, get a turn on stage too (she goes back on Broadway to Zorba). I’d love to see them all in a play with something worth their acting abilities.
The combination of bizarre plot and male worship seems to work because of the engaging actresses cast by Director Barnet Kellman. There also is a surprise visit by a guest not credited in the Playbill. The show has been extended through July 31.
Out of the Mouths of Babes plays through July 31 at the Cherry Lane Theatre, 38 Commerce St., NYC. Performances are Wednesday and Saturday at 3 and 7 pm; Thursday and Friday at 7 pm; and Sunday at 3 pm. Tickets $66-$96: www.cherrylanetheatre.org; 866-811-4111.
Costume Design by Joseph G. Aulisi , Lighting Design by Paul Miller, Sound Design by Leon Rothenberg.
-- God's name taken in vain