We saw Regrets Only at NY City Center Stage which is one of the theaters used by Manhattan Theater Club. I really like that theater because it is small and intimate. There really isn’t a bad seat. The only drag is that the seating is quite tight. Not much leg room.
Paul Rudnick, an author and playwright, wrote the play, Regrets Only. The play takes place in a Park Avenue apartment and focuses on marriage, friendship, class, fashion and politics. Six characters. A socialite wife, a lawyer who is the husband, the best friend who is one of the premier fashion designers of the century and happens to be gay, the lovely daughter of the couple who is also a lawyer and recently got engaged, the socialite mother and the Jewish white maid.
The play attempts to say something but is lost in the comedic overtones. The President of the United States, calls upon the husband to help create an amendment to the constitution regarding gay marriage. Basically making sure that marriage is only between a man and a woman. The father asks his daughter to join him to work on this project in this once in a lifetime opportunity. Yet, one of their best friends, who happens to be in the room when this takes place, who just lost his lover of 38 years, is brushed off like a fleck of dust. Does this group just have the best interests of their careers and ladder climbing in mind? What do they actually believe in? It seems that the only thing they care about is themselves.
There are conversations about what is marriage, why do people get married, why has Grandma been married 5 times ( to gay men ). Why didn’t the lovers ever get married and have kids?
Rudnick is trying to make a point but the absurdities of the maid who interrupts each conversation due to boredom dressed up as a different character; Frenchman, Spaniard, etc. takes away from what he is trying to say. When every gay person in NYC stops working because somehow the designer has orchestrated this to make a statement what would happen if gay people ceased to exist doesn’t really resonate.
There are some humorous moments. Appropriately New York. The snobbishness of the socialite. The clothes, the judgment passed on everyone, the simplicity of their lives because they would prefer to look at the world through rose colored glasses is actually funny.
The play is like a poorly written sitcom with the words flying back and forth. Unfortunately the play could have had the potential to really make people leave the theater and think about what he is trying to say but it missed the mark. Oh well. I did get a few chuckles in but in the end the chuckles didn’t outweigh the absurdity of the entire production.