By Wendy Rosenfield
for the Inquirer
In the first vignette of Act II Playhouse's Hotel Suite, Diana Nichols (Karen Peakes) scoffs at her own Oscar nomination. She has done Pinter, Beckett, but what finally hit was this "silly comedy." Her husband Sidney (Leonard C. Haas) responds, "They don't go for quality, love, they go by gross."
In Act 2, 1984, the Nicholses, long divorced, reunite for one evening in London, while back in New York at the Plaza the Hubleys attempt to marry off their reluctant daughter, who has locked herself in the bathroom and refuses to come out. The Hubley saga, enhanced by Braithwaite and Higgins' raucous comic sensibilities and sharp timing (an opening-night snafu - a broken phone cord - inspired hilarious ad libs from both) makes for a diverting couple of trifles.
The Nicholses bring a deeper, more cutting humor to their segments, and here, balancing the shifts in their power dynamic, Matt Silva's direction and Peakes and Haas' easy camaraderie shine brightest. As it becomes increasingly clear that Sidney's bisexuality is resolving itself, and not in her favor, Diana lobs ever nastier grenades. But Peakes lets the desperation show in her eyes, underscoring the viciousness with a winning vulnerability. As a counterpoint, Haas initially shrinks under her attacks, but as Sidney becomes more comfortable with himself, he's a calming, understated presence.