S.N. Behrman's The Second Man, the 1927 comedy of manners that was originally a vehicle for Lunt and Fontanne, gets a New York revival July 14-30 by Keen Company, a new Off-Off-Broadway venture.
Former Blue Light Theatre Company literary manager-artistic associate Carl Forsman is artistic director of the new company, which focuses on American works that are "sincere." A revival and a new work are planned for this season and next, with expansion likely after that, Forsman told Playbill On-Line. Amy Patricia Stern is Keen Company's general manager.
The three-act Second Man follows a novelist who is to marry a rich woman, but his plans are interrupted by a pregnant girlfriend, who herself has a suitor. The original Theatre Guild staging ran 178 performances. Lunt played the novelist and Fontanne was the rich woman. Noel Coward and Raymond Massey appeared in the London production.
The work is perfect as a debut for the company, Forsman said, because the work is all about "sincerity vs. cynicism." He said Behrman (1893-1973) is sometimes thought of as a naive writer, but the work "is actually quite complicated." Behrman and Philip Barry tended to write about the same sort of rich, high-toned people, but Behrman injected politics into some of his works. His best-known work may be Biography.
Keen Company presents the revival, the first in New York in 20 years, at the 99-seat space in Blue Heron Arts Center in Manhattan. Forsman directs Brennan Brown, Maggie Baisch, Jennifer van Dyck and Chris Hutchison. Designers are Nathan Heverin (set), Theresa Squire (costumes), Josh Bradford (lights) and Obadiah Eaves (sound).
Tickets are $12. Blue Heron is at 123 E. 24th Street between Park and Lexington. Call (212) 560-7284 for Keen Company information or reservations.
-- By Kenneth Jones