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A CurtainUp Review
The Best Man

She looks absolutely radiant in her white lace-wedding gown. And the veil. Wait till you see. Simply …stunning. Really. Why she chose not to wear a slip under that tight low cut outfit she wore last night, to the rehearsal dinner, is anyone’s guess, but she looks simply breathtaking this morning. --- Rita, the groom’s mother.

Ed Jewett and Susan Greenhill in The Best Man
Ed Jewett and Susan Greenhill
Not to be confused with Gore Vidal’s 1964 political play with the same name, The Best Man is a new comedy by fledgling playwright Robert King. The play is being touted not only as a world premiere but also as the first professional production of any play by the 44 year-old King, whose day job is as a tax credit coordinator for the City of New York. This is not to imply that his evenings spent learning the craft of playwriting at the Playwrights Unit of HB Studios were ill-spent. Indeed, King shows an instinctive grasp, if not yet a secure hold, when it comes to writing a sustained and satisfying comedy. This is also not to suggest that The Best Man, about the high anxiety of a 250 lb 35 year-old groom as he awaits the moment of truth, is neither without a fair share of laughs nor unable to amuse an undemanding audience.

The scene is the sacristy of the church on the day of Patrick’s (Ed Jewett) wedding. Before his arrival, Patrick’s best men – his younger brother John (Dan Domingues) and best friend Ronnie (Tom Tansey) – are dealing with a major issue. John, good looking and trim and with a reputation as a womanizer confesses to Ronnie that has (to use the vernacular) "banged" Doreen, the bride-to-be on the steps leading up to their rooms at the hotel after the rehearsal dinner. John blurts out, “I’m in love with her,” and insists that he has to talk to Doreen and tell his brother before the ceremony. John’s lust for Doreen is somehow connected to her passion for collecting The Wizard of Oz memorabilia. People have been known to connect for less.

The greatest gift this comedy, however, has to offer is Rita (Susan Greenhill), the shrill, bossy and unnerving mother of the groom who expectedly has no love for the bride-to-be for reasons that take up as much stage time as does the boys rehashing of their school days, the girls that did or did not put out, and whether Patrick should finally discard his extensive porno collection. Is John’s indiscretion revealed? What happens if Rita finds out? Will there be a wedding? Amid resolves that some will find tritely expedient, and an ending that some will find grievously unacceptable, the comedy defies rationale responses by the sheer force of its comical crudity.

Under the resourceful direction of Peter Bennett, whose credits include the long-running off-Broadway hit Passion of Dracula, the cast responds explosively to the imploding script, in turn digressive and redundant. As the groom, Jewett’s bulk is no barrier to his endearing performance. Domingues is fine as the irresponsible John, as is Tansey as the exuberantly crass Ronnie. But it is Greenhill, as a hilariously over-bearing Rita, who brings a fresh respect for this traditionally stale stereotype. Set Designer Harry Feiner has impressively researched the décor of a sacristy. For the future, may I respectfully suggest to the playwright that he research how to turn a situation into a play. I suspect that The Best Man may find future refuge in Community Theater.

The Best Man
By Robert King
Directed by Peter Bennett
Cast: Dan Domingues, Tom Tansey, Ed Jewett, Susan Greenhill
Scenic Design: Harry Feiner
Costume Design: Patricia E. Doherty
Lighting Design: Jill Nagle
Running Time: 1 hour 50 minutes including intermission
The New Jersey Repertory Company, at the Lumia Theatre, 179 Broadway, Long Branch, NJ. 07740 732 – 229 – 3166, email:
September 14 through October 15, 2006
Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 8 PM; selected Saturdays at 4 PM and Sundays at 2 PM
Tickets are $30 with discounts for seniors, students, groups and thru subscriptions.
For additional information or reservations call Tickets can also be purchased online at
Review based on performance Sunday September 17 by Simon Saltzman
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