The Old Globe presents an extremely stylish and often well acted revival of Clare Boothe Luce's now-dated social satire.
If the fashions still elicit oohs and aahs (as well as occasional gasps of disbelief), Luce's cynical social attitudes don't anymore. What was shocking and controversial in 1936 is blasé and old hat in today's tabloid and TMZ-fueled world. Probably the most controversial images are provided by baby factory Edith Potter (Amy Hohn) as she nurses a cigarette as well as her newborn baby, even letting ash fall onto the infant's face. In a later scene, once again pregnant, she's knocking back cocktails like a sailor on 24-hour shore leave.
Fortunately, Kate Baldwin provides a steady and steely balance to the play as Mary Haines, the Park Avenue wife and mother done wrong by the scheming shopgirl Crystal Allen (a shrewish Kathleen McElfresh), who is having an affair with Mary's husband. Dismissing the sage advice of her mother (the always solid Linda Gehringer), Mary falls victim to her friends' backstabbing ways, including chief gossip and troublemaker Sylvia Fowler (an overly cartoonish Heather Ayers), and is soon heading for Reno and a divorce.
Some of the smaller roles are the most pungent. Great support is delivered by Ruth Williamson as the unlucky-in-love multiple divorcee Countess de Lage; Mary-Pat Green shines in a variety of roles including the cornpone Lucy and an Irish cook; while Blair Ross steals quite a few laughs in such roles as Maternity Nurse and One-Eyed Dowager.
Nancy Anderson delivers some wise advice as well as wisecracks as showgirl Miriam, and gets to display her singing prowess at the opening and close of each act. However, the songs, though from the period and somewhat commenting on the action, don't really add much to the proceedings, and having Anderson make her entrance from the audience to the microphone at center stage is also disconcerting.