In Israel Horovitz’s new play, four women who were sexually involved with the same man at some point over the past 65 years gather at his Parisian loft for his funeral, after he has died at age 100. They trade barbs, crack wise, and reminisce. One of them keeps on trying to jump out the window. It is a silly comedy of little substance or consequence, and only occasionally amusing, but it’s terrifically appointed by set designer Neil Patel and costume designer Joseph G. Aulisi, and its four-member cast includes Estelle Parsons and Judith Ivey, who seem to be able to make anything feel like a sparkling entertainment.
Click on any photograph by Carol Rosegg to see it enlarged
Each of the four characters met the unnamed man when they were (much younger) students of his at the Sorbonne, where he taught music. He was what used to be called a roué – what one would nowadays call a schmuck.
To Evelyn (portrayed by Parsons), now 88, he looks better compared to the disappointing lovers who followed: “None of them were any good, but he was the best of an extremely nasty gender.”
“The best my ass,” replies the character portrayed by Ivey, also named Evelyn, 68. “He went from one woman to another and never looked back.”
Ivey’s Evelyn goes by Evvie, and the man called her Snookie. This is not to be confused with the man’s first wife, whom he also nicknamed Snookie.
The other mourners are Janice, 58, portrayed by Angelina Fiordellisi; she’s the one who’s so depressed she keeps on trying to jump out the window, and Francesca Choy-Kee, who portrays Marie-Belle, 38, who was his lover at the time of his death – and who continues to communicate with him in all sorts of ways, which allows the playwright to provide a (deliberately silly) supernatural ending. Several times, the man’s unseen ghost tickles Marie-Belle, causing her to laugh hysterically. This is a reaction unlikely to be replicated with much frequency by the audience.
Out of the Mouths of Babes
Cherry Lane Theater
Written by Israel Horovitz; Directed by Barnet Kellman
Cast: Francesca Choy-Kee, Judith Ivey, Angelina Fiordellisi and Estelle Parson
Scenic design by Neil Patel, costume design by Joseph G. Aulisi, lighting design by Paul Miller, sound design by Leon Rothenberg
Running time: two hours, including an intermission
“Out of the Mouths of Babes” is set to run through July 31, 2016.