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Every Day a Visitor

Presented by the New Federal Theatre at the McGinn/Cazale Theatre, 2162 Broadway (at W. 76 St.), NYC, May 24-July 1.

It requires more than good intentions to create a living, breathing piece of theatre. And though Richard Abrons (whose day job is that of an investment manager) is on his second play (the first being "The Brothers Berg"), he has yet to grasp the necessary skills.

His current play, "Every Day a Visitor," now at the McGinn/Cazale Theatre, does grapple with life at a home for the elderly—admittedly, a topic that needs airing.

And he has hit upon a singular idea. The residents of this bleak institution take on the personas of noted celebrities—Henry Kissinger and Bella Abzug among them. This play-acting has a salubrious effect. An era of good will replaces the former bickering and name-calling. Friendships and love affairs develop, and a new supportiveness prevails. A veritable sea change.

Unfortunately, Abrons never really takes off with this idea. Characterizations are shallow (with one trait defining each person), and dialogue itself, which is so much the trademark of any playwright, is repetitious, limited, and often tasteless.

Despite the gallant efforts of a cast of 10, under Arthur Strimling's direction, it just doesn't work. How capable these performers would be in a less awkward play is hard to say. But John Freimann does manage a touching performance, and we know that Lisa Bostnar is a solid actress, having comported herself well recently in "The Gardens of Frau Hess."

And work from the design team (the musty set of Robert Joel Schwartz, appropriate lighting of Shirley Prendergast, and amusing costumes by Dawn Robyn Petrlik) helps raise the production to a professional level.

Indeed, life in a senior residence is worth exploring, as it has been in other plays. But, alas, this is not "The Gin Game."

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