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'Embraceable You' : A September Song For Two

October 02, 1987|RAY LOYND

She's 61. He's 65. They are widowed and old friends. They've got their health and independent means. He wants to tie the knot. She doesn't.

She's got a one-way ticket to Florida, and moving men clearing out her Manhattan apartment. But he's got determination. And he's a great dancer. As the books and furniture go out the door, romance rears its embattled head. Is it possible? Will she relent?

Now this isn't the stuff of spellbinding drama, but Tom Troupe, who both directs and co-stars in "Embraceable You," has fashioned a crisp production from playwright Richard Baer's slick four-character play at the Melrose Theater. (Throw out the moving men and it's really a two-character work.)

It's nice to observe senior citizens who aren't maimed, addled, or dying. This pair is just fighting off loneliness, albeit with more snappy one-liners than most mortals would muster.

The widowed woman is played with brittle clarity by Jacqueline Scott, the persistent, relentless gentleman is garnished with a certain rough charm by Troupe.

What works well is the sense of a long mutual history between the protagonists. Even their late spouses come to fleeting life through playwright Baer's skillful dialogue. The show's achievement is one of craft over content.

One surprise, however, momentarily enthralls--that's when Troupe and Scott nimbly dance around a half-empty Manhattan apartment to the nostalgic melodies of "Sentimental Journey" and the entitled "Embraceable You." Sonja Haney did the choreography and Scott Heineman designed the accommodating set.

Performances are at 733 N. Seward St., Thursdays through Saturdays, 8 p.m., Sundays, 7 p.m., through Oct. 11. Tickets: $10-$12.50. (213) 465-0070.

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