Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Mornings at Seven"

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note: entire contents copyright 1999 by Beverly Creasey

Morning Glory

A Minority Report by Beverly Creasey

"Mornings at Seven" by Paul Osborn is a charming old-fashioned comedy of Midwestern manners --- which turns outright hilarious in the hands of director Eric Engel. Engel nudges the mild comedy up a notch with broad strokes which point up the corny nostalgia without ever holding it up to ridicule. One of the four sisters around whom the play revolves has a stuffy professor-husband who looks down his nose at his "moronic" relatives. Engel the fine character actor Waldo Fielding size up each in-law in slow-motion, looking them up and down as he greets each of them. It's wonderfully silly, and it sets the tone for the whole play.

Several of the Lyric actors appeared in the Nora Theatre's version of this play a decade ago, also directed by Engel, but the current version seems lighter...and funnier. Marty Barrett is deliciously ridiculous as the reticent fiancÚ, who prefers living with Mom (Alice Duffy in a triumphant turn as the naive sister) to marrying a exasperatingly cheerful Judith McIntyre.

Eve Johnson is sheer elegance as the professor's patient wife. Jack Sweet is delightfully daffy as a handyman who can't fix up his own life, let alone his house. Richard Mawe is a smooth operator, keeping the two sisters he lives with happy: Deena Mazer as the long suffering spinster sister, and Mary Klug as his saintly wife. Eric Levenson's twin-house set speaks volumes about the characters. One house is neatly painted with a perfect lawn, the other (which belongs to the handyman) has fallen on hard times. The lawn is browning fast and the house desperately needs painting, but its owner is preoccupied with a prolonged mid-life crisis.

What a treat to witness such energetic ensemble acting...and to see some of Boston's most talented actors strut their stuff.

"Mornings at Seven" (till 17 October)
140 Clarendon Street, BOSTON

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide