By Howard Shapiro
INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
A hint of sleaziness hangs over Muriel Resnik's Any Wednesday, a sugar-daddy escapade and her only Broadway play and a highly successful one, running for two years in the mid-'60s. It's written to be appealingly scrubby-faced sitting-room comedy, although the living room is in the apartment of a guy's mistress.
Any Wednesday, which is being given an excellent production that opened Saturday at Montgomery Theatre in Souderton, came after the film The Apartment, which later became the musical Promises, Promises; all three deal with the same subject: mistresses. I had the same questions as I sat in an audience of Any Wednesday this past weekend that occurred to me on Broadway a few years back, when Promises, Promises was revived.
Were extra-marital affairs really all the rage in the '60s? Does no one ever get hurt in these plots?
In Any Wednesday, no one seems to be hurt a bit, which makes the show way ahead of its time or flatly unrealistic, and I'm voting for the latter. It's a simple story: Man meets girl, man keeps girl in a certain lifestyle, girl meets man's wife, things should fall apart but maybe not. To make matters interesting, in Any Wednesday, girl also meet another guy who uses her to get to her man, a ruthless business tycoon who has trampled the much younger fellow in a business deal.
Any Wednesday, with its Manhattan smarties from the Upper East Side and its plot about relationships and the attractions and distractions of mid-century big-city life, reminds me of many a Neil Simon play but without the clever repartee. You couldn't ask for a smoother production than Tom Quinn's -- he's both the director of this Any Wednesday and the head of Montgomery -- and he gets fine work from the quartet of actors who offer entertaining portraits of their characters on Michael Kerns' impressive apartment set. In the end, though, the play is more curious than funny, even though it doesn't feel dated.
I can only think that it's the script, at best workmanlike, that fails to deliver, because you can't find fault with the interpretations: the busy Philadelphia actor Joe Guzmán has the sugar daddy part down pat and gives us a believably despicable elitist businessman; Jessica Bedford is his young mistress and matches her great looks to clear body-movement signals to aid in her nuanced performance; Ian Lithgow has a nice home-spun quality as the small-town boy intent on bringing the tycoon to his heels.
Gerri Weagraff has the hardest part of all, as the affronted wife, to whom the script says only: Why-can't-we-all-just get along? She brings it off exceedingly well, even though the character seems not fully credible, like the play.
Contact Howard Shapiro at 215-854-5727, firstname.lastname@example.org, or #philastage on Twitter. Read his recent work at http://go.philly.com/howardshapiro. Hear his reviews at the Classical Network, www.wwfm.org.
Any Wednesday: Through June 30 at Montgomery Theatre, 124 N. Main St. Souderton. Tickets: $26-$35. Information: 215-723-9984 or www.montgomerytheatre.org.