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Days of Wine and Roses

Presented by the Boomerang Theatre Company in association with Nita & Henk van der Werff-Clark at Walkerspace, 46 Walker St., NYC, Oct. 8-18.

J.P. Miller's "Days of Wine and Roses" began life on "Playhouse 90" in 1958, starring Cliff Robertson and Piper Laurie, and was filmed for the big screen in 1962 with Jack Lemmon and Lee Remick. The powerful story concerns a couple in love with the bottle who fall in love with each other until their drinking undermines their marriage.

The New York stage premiere by the Boomerang Theatre Company is almost identical to the teleplay. Two-thirds of the story is told in flashbacks at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, and the couple's downward spiral is depicted in short, quick vignettes in multiple locales. Despite the play's power, it seems dated both in plotting and details. Updating the play to the present only compounds this flaw.

Rachel Wood's care with the production is evident. However, she isn't able to solve the problem of the play's cinematic roots. The set design by Harlan Penn uses a series of platforms covered in various designs set in a huge oval. Though it speeds up the scene changes somewhat, endless blackouts are still required. Since the audience sits on three sides of the playing area, all the intimate scenes are viewed with other audience members in full view. The lack of scenery and a bare lighting plot by Scott Davis keep the production devoid of atmosphere.

As the hero who destroys his career and then seeks help while his wife refuses to admit her alcoholism, Mac Brydon seems a bit callow, never varying his strategy or performance. Laura Siner as his drinking companion and eventual wife is stronger, but the lack of close-ups limits intensity. As her father, Wally Carroll is too bland and one-note to show his confusion in dealing with the situation. Paul Schnee is straightforward and authoritative as Joe's AA contact. Among the supporting cast, Margaret Flanagan demonstrates versatility in a series of contrasting roles.

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