TIO NYC: Linney & Hecht In "Summer, 1976." A Perfect Pas De Deux!

Too bad, so sad, Thierry Mugler: “Couturissime,” a costume mega-show, closes May 7. The tribute to one of fashion’s greatest showmen, populated by his “fembots” and “glamazons,” is the very definition of “over the top.” In short, it is noisy, good fun, the designer’s virtuosity on dazzling display. Which is the only thing that show had in common with the Broadway production of “Summer, 1976,” starring the virtuosic, laureled super novas Laura Linney and Jessica Hecht. This understated gem of a production defines how loudly quiet can speak. The run at the Samuel J. Friedman was just (thankfully) extended to June 18. So run and get tickets here.

Go here to read more about TIO NYC.

Familiar with T.S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock? Whether that is a “yes” or a “no,” a line from that celebrated poem talks about how to “prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet,” figuratively putting on a mask to cover how one really feels about oneself, others too.

Enter Emmy Award® winner and Academy Award® nominee Laura Linney as Diana and Tony Award® nominee Jessica Hecht as Alice, point/counterpoint, in “Summer, 1976. Working off of each other in what amounted to a perfect pas de deux, the pair set off their own brand of theatrical fireworks as our country celebrated its Bicentennial. And they made it look easy. (Yeah, like E=mc2.)

No doubt “Summer, 1976,” like another memorable two-hander, “Love Letters,” will grow very long legs and make the rounds, with others performing this singular duet written by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright David Auburn (“Proof”).  For its debut, however, Linney and Hecht, easily two of the most compelling talents working on the boards today, manage to entertain while delivering a master class in acting. and life lessons that rang true.

Like Prufrock, both characters are insecure. Though they wear very different masks to hide the facts of their disappointing lives and unfortunate loves.

On the surface, Diana is a fiercely unique artist and single mother; Alice, a free-spirited, seemingly naive young housewife. Together, albeit briefly, the two women (who meet in their 20s and reminiscence in their 50s), navigate their hopes, dreams, the depths and breadth of friendship, and motherhood. And, thanks to Auburn’s gift, they do that without treacly melodrama. Just the facts ma’am – some hilarious; others poignant.

The subtext of the play? The secrets we tell ourselves to face the world – even a world defined only by two through the fog of memory. In this context, and thanks to David Sullivan’s gentle, but firm direction, those closeted skeletons are shared with the audience in slow, steady reveals.

If theatre is “life made urgent,” as David Mamet once said, then “Summer, 1976,” will set up shop in your consciousness.

Go here to read

Go here to reads interview with Linney and Hecht, also in The New York Times.

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