The Prisoner of Second Avenue

Neil Simon’s 1971 hit play--about a man who in swift succession loses his job, his cool, his identity, and his mind--ran for two years on Broadway, then became a popular movie, just as New York City was going to hell. Perhaps Seattle has been spared such dystopia during our present recession. Psychologically, however, it doesn’t feel far off. Today, the traditional marriage of Mel (masterfully un-stagey R. Hamilton Wright) and Edna (Anne Allgood) feels a bit dated; and Simon sets up his jokes’ as mechanically as Venus Williams does her serves. But who can argue with technique when the cast hits ace after ace? (The star-studded lineup includes John Aylward, Cynthia Lauren Tewes, Kimberly King, and Julie Briskman.) At first, Mel seems undone by a conspiracy of tiny irritations, including the neighbors’ noise—which Edna must put her ear to the wall to hear—and the stench of rotting, rising garbage 14 stories below. (“Soon this apartment’s going to be on the third floor,” Mel grouses.) But it’s actually the loss of his job that’s made the other irritants unbearable. Without character-stabilizing employment (like lithium for a manic depressive), all proportion is lost. (Runs Tues.-Sun. through May 29.) MARGARET FRIEDMAN [See Margaret's full review.]

Fri., April 29, 7:30 p.m.; Tuesdays-Sundays. Starts: April 29. Continues through May 29, 2011

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