On the heels of John Patrick Shanley's Psychopathia Sexualis, one of the year's most critically acclaimed comedies, Off-Broadway will see a revival of another Shanley work, Women Of Manhattan, May 30-June 29, opening June 6. This biting look at people coming to terms with their loneliness was originally staged at Manhattan Theatre Club in the 1980s.
The Barrow Group, which workshopped a revival of the comedy in fall 1996, will now stage the full production. Starring are Katie Davis, Patrick F. Kline and Elizabeth Hanley Rice (who all appeared in the workshop). Paul Rice directs the show, which has costumes by Martha Gresch, sets by Markas Henry and lighting by Robert Cangemi.
Barrow Group co-artistic director Seth Barrish interviewed Shanley for the theatre company's Spring 1997 Quarterly and asked the playwright what inspired him to write Women Of Manhattan:
"Well there was a color running through the zeitgeist at that time which had really not been named yet which would come to be called `political correctness,'" said Shanley. "It was something that was really bothering me. I noticed that there were these sort of agreed upon social assumptions going through the culture that I didn't agree with -- certain things were always wrong; certain things were always right; that stereotypes were by their nature evil as opposed to containing some truth. So I wrote this play in which there's a black guy who is a stud and is called Duke and is very successful with women. And I wrote a woman who's marriage is saved when her husband hits her in the face. And that she comes in with a black eye and says, `I am not an abused wife.' I thought people would be irate by these things in the play and that it would foster a lot of discussion. But in fact, the time was so repressed, people just sat there mutely and didn't quite know... It came and went kind of quietly. And I was shocked."
Asked if he was working on a new project, Shanley replied, "I'm working on a play, but I'm not ready to do it. It's set in the Renaissance. And I'm working on a couple of movies right now. But I'm not sure what I'm gonna do. I did five productions of plays in the last twelve months in Seattle, Los Angeles, Louisville and two in New York [Missing/Kissing,; Psychopathia Sexualis]. So I'm a little tired. I'm going to take a month's vacation."
Other works by Shanley include Danny And The Deep Blue Sea, Four Dogs And A Bone, Inferno, Welcome To The Moon and the screenplay of Moonstruck. The Barrow Group was recently represented Off-Broadway by their co- production of the long-running Old Wicked Songs, which closed March 9. In other Barrow Group news, co-artistic directors Seth Barrish and Lee Brock recently married.
For tickets ($15) and information on Women Of Manhattan, by the Barrow Group at the John Houseman Theatre space on West 42nd St., call (212) 522-1402.
--By David Lefkowitz