By Bill Hirschman, FloridaTheaterOnStage - Chapter Two may be the ultimate play about bringing baggage to a relationship. If it’s tough when some dates drone on about their last marriage with “that abusive jerk” who dumped them, imagine how a potential romantic partner can compete with the memory of a beloved spouse who died prematurely?
Director Michael Leeds and a solid cast at the Plaza Theatre in Manalapan have mastered Neil Simon’s challenging meld of witty comedy and throat-choking heartache, and make both perfectly plausible facets of life.
Chapter Two is almost uncomfortably autobiographical, which invests it with the imprimatur of credibility. It fictionalizes Simon’s struggles to create a new life with the actress Marsha Mason after the death from cancer of his adored wife Joan.
Note: The opinions in the reviews by Bill Hirschman and his staff are strictly their own. Bill maintains a daily, comprehensive, website about theater in south Florida. It includes a calendar listing, reviews of current productions, Q&A with some of the actors, directors and producers of shows. Bill was formerly the Sun-Sentinels Theater Reviewer. His arts coverage has appeared in Variety, American Theatre magazine, Playbill.com, A&E magazine, the Miami Herald among many other outlets.