Changing personal habits is a near impossibility. We will ourselves to betterment with the best intentions, only to realize that we return to our comfortable patterns. 

It’s even more of a challenge to make behavioral changes as we age. Fewer theatre pieces have captured this observation with such nuance more than Keen Theater’s revival of A.R. Gurney‘s 1994 Later Life.

Photo by Carol Rosegg

Gurney introduces us to Austin (Laurence Lau) and Ruth (Barbara Garrick). The pair reunites at a cocktail party and realizes they had attempted a romantic interlude years before. During the gathering, other partygoers mingle with them, each offering subtle truths about their own volatility. Jodie Markell and Liam Craig have the complex challenge of assuming the roles of these various guests. Director Jonathan Silverstein deftly directs his cast with a gentle hand, ensuring that Gurney’s intended message is well received.

This is not one of the playwright’s more compelling works and at times, one finds it difficult to empathize with the plight of such pampered WASPs whose major life’s issues include numerous failed attempts at smoking cessation and minor health ailments.

Still, there is a simmering reaction that occurs long after the curtain falls on Later Life.  Days later, it’s possible to find yourself contemplating these characters and how much they’ve captured our own tendencies.

Photo by Carol Rosegg

Steven Kemp‘s set is elegantly evocative of a posh party at a water view terrace and he turns the quaint Clurman theater into a seemingly more spacious venue with enchanting harbor lights.

Once again, the Keen Company cements its reputation as a curator of fine theater.

Later Life runs Off-Broadway through April 14th @ Theater Row’s Clurman Theater 410 West 42nd Street between 9th and 10th. For tickets, click here.