Category Archive for: ‘Flora Lynn Isaacson’

Chapter Two–A Semi-Autobiographical Play by Neil Simon at RVP

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 Kate Fox Marcom as Jennie Malone, Jennifer Reimer as Faye Medwick in Chapter Two at Ross Valley Players.  Photo by Robin Jackson

 Chapter Two is widely perceived to be an autobiographical revelation of Neil Simon coming to terms with the death of his first wife, followed by his love affair and subsequent marriage to Marsha Mason.  This poignant play is based around four brilliantly penned characters—George Schneider (David Shirk), a mourning writer; Jennie Malone (Kate Fox Marcom), a level headed actress; Leo Schneider (Johnny DeBernard), George’s talkative but loving brother; and Faye Medwick (Jennifer Reimer), Jennie’s utterly clueless but enchanting friend.

George has not “moved on” from the untimely death of his wife despite Leo’s best efforts to fix him up with other women.  Then he meets Jennie who’s just walked out of a terrible marriage to a football player, and in a very short span of time, they’re in love and get married.  But George’s memories catch up with him, and he soon finds himself trapped between the past and present, and their relationship starts to crumble.  How does George reconcile his past and move forward with Jennie—a sentimental woman with a strong head on her shoulders?  Do they give up or can they work things out?

Although it seems like a heavy subject to deal with, Simon’s wonderful narrative and witty dialog makes Chapter Two an immensely likeable play.  In George and Jennie, Simon shows both complexity and simplicity.  In Leo and Faye, Simon presents two confused, yet adorable characters.

The play is sensitively directed by James Nelson (who combines Simon’s frequent phone call dialog in order to show the parallel nature of Chapter Two) He creates an invisible line through the middle of the stage, so each character only exists in half of their former world.   When the two come together, they form one “whole.”  Nelson also added, in several occurrences of what he calls “moments alone”—short transitioning scenes where we simply get a glimpse of the two main characters alone in their own space. The time and place is winter/spring 1977, in the New York apartments of George and Jennie.  This remarkable set design is by Eugene deChristopher.

David Shirk and Kate Fox Marcom work well together digging deep for the panorama of emotions that Simon intended.  Jennifer Reimer milks the audience for laughs in a fun, supporting role.  Johnny DeBernard is perfectly cast as George’s brother Leo.

Be sure not to miss Chapter Two, the opening play of Ross Valley Players’ 2013/2014 season. Chapter Two runs September 13-October 13, 2013. Performances are Thursday at 7:30 p.m.; Friday-Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. at the Barn Theatre, home of the Ross Valley Players—30 Sir Francis Drake Blvd., Ross, CA.  To order tickets, call 415-456-9555, ext. 1 or visit www.rossvalleyplayers.com.

Coming up next at Ross Valley Players will be their RAW Festival of four plays with “Unintended Consequences” from October 18-27, 2013. This will be followed by Harvey by Mary Chase and directed by Robert Wilson, November 15-December 15, 2013.

Flora Lynn Isaacson