I was fortunate to see John Patrick Shanley's award-winning Doubt on Broadway, a production that had me gripped from start to finish. I was intrigued, therefore, to catch Women of Manhattan, a play he penned in 1986 and which has been revived at the Old Red Lion in Angel.
Judy, Billie and Rhonda Louise are having a girly night in on the Upper West Side discussing what women discuss best – men. With their careers thriving, these attractive and articulate thirty year olds take pleasure in the finer things in life, yet there's one major void – Male satisfaction. Sounds familiar huh?
Rhonda Louise is licking her wounds from a failed relationship, unable to part with her ex's whiffy sneakers. Billie is less than fulfilled with her “happy marriage” and Judy is convinced that all Manhattan men are gay. The subsequent engaging scenes see each girl go on a journey of self-discovery to escape their mundane routine, a rather intelligent look at a group of rather complex women.
Sherrill Gow's production is an entertaining 70-minutes and all of the cast are strong
Women of Manhattan is being billed as a “girls night out” for the Sex and the City generation and judging by the largely female audience, it's hitting the right market. Yet while the play has its appeal, the dialogue doesn't quite pack the punch needed to reach the potentially humorous highs. Perhaps if it did, the emotional depth would be fully realised.
Nevertheless, Sherrill Gow's production is an entertaining 70-minutes and all of the cast are strong. Kosha Engler shines as ‘Fag Hag' Judy, her strong cynical exterior tamed effectively by Victor Perez's alluring Duke. Clare Amos does well to opt for a simple design, using white plinths to emphasise props and locations.
Although there was real potential for John Patrick Shanley to raise the stakes here, Woman of Manhattan is still a charming night out.
Runs until 7 November 2009 at the Old Red Lion, 418 St. John Street, London. EC1 4NJ. Box Office: 020 7838 7816. www.oldredliontheatre.co.uk