Boy loves girl. Girl loves boy. Simple enough, one would think. Then again, that would make for a rather drab drama. So, to complicate the lives of our leading lovers, classic playwright Paddy Chayefsky has whipped up some conflict in Keen Theater’s tender revival of his 1956 play Middle of the Night, now playing on Theatre Row.
The Manufacturer (Jonathan Hadary), an employee of New York’s garment district, is a bit lonely. His wife has passed and he’s in desperate need of some tender loving care. When the Girl (Nicole Lowrance) drops by the widower’s store to drop off some sales slips, she begins to deluge him with her problems. Her Husband (Todd Bartels) is a bohemian jazz artist who spends much of his time away. Aside from the sexual chemistry, there is not much keeping them together. The Girl is besieged by sadness to the point of filing for a divorce. Upon learning of her trials, the Manufacturer listens intently and, as Cupid would have it, falls in love with her. Here’s the “sticky wicket” in this: He’s Jewish. She’s a Gentile. He is in his fifties. She is a fresh 24. Neither family is taking this sitting down, but the couple is resolute on making it work.
Both Jewish and Gentile families adopt dual roles, and each player brings a strong performance to the stage. But it is Hadary, a long time stage veteran, who brings solid gravitas and a firm footing to Middle of the Night. The volatility and sincerity in his performance is perfect.
Although he is known more for his Oscar-winning scripts on films including Network, Marty, and The Hospital, Chayefsky’s Middle of the Night (which also received a film treatment in 1959) strikes sweet chords of unexpected promise and love. Director Jonathan Silverstein’s gentle guidance has allowed for a heartfelt production.
Middle of the Night is now playing off-Broadway now through March 29th. Theatre Row, 410 West 42nd between 9th and 10th ave. For tickets, call 212-239-6200, visit www.telecharge.com, or visit the box office.