Richard Schiff and Margot White give authentic performances in the McCarter Theatre's excellent revival of Lanford Wilson's grittily charming romance.
That tandem knack permeates the meeting down by the folly of resident Sally Tally (Margot White) and unexpected guest Matt Friedman (Richard Schiff). Lest it be assumed that this is a meet-cute set-up, Wilson quickly establishes that Sally and Matt have known each other for some time and are already in love.
In Matt's fervent pursuit of Sally up, down, and across the many folly levels designer Beatty has laid out -- including a lily pond on which a rowboat floats -- they hardly confine themselves to whispering sweet nothings. Their talk is intended to reflect not great thoughts but the give-and-take of two awkward people getting through to one another. At 31, Sally's fearful she's about to devolve into the family spinster; Matt, 42 and Jewish, sees himself as even more of a misfit. They're literal outsiders by virtue of their being by themselves while the rest of the insular Talley clan is listening to the radio a stone's throw away.
During the course of Matt's attempts to embrace Sally figuratively and metaphorically, they discuss what she deems their unsuitability, his journey to America, the real reason why her family has all but given up on her and many other matters (a few too many perhaps for dramatic purposes) that are just the sort of trivia on which love affairs are founded. Matt says of the argument he gave himself before taking on his ambitious, even reckless courtship, "What do you think she's going to do -- bite you?" He says this, as it happens, just after Sally has actually bitten him.