MR. & MRS. FITCH

  • Our critic's rating:
    Date:
    March 1, 2010
    Review by:
    Tulis McCall

    Review by Tulis McCall
    1 Mar 2010

    Well this is another fine mess you got us into, whoever you are that chose this play to get up off the page and onto the stage. It is a piece that flows trippingly off the tongue and signifies nothing. I think I may take this personally because I a-d-o-r-e-d The Little Dog Laughed, also by Douglas Carter Beane, and I was expecting great things.

    Mr. and Mrs. Fitch, (John Lithgow and Jennifer Ehle ) whose first names we never discover, have just returned from a sincere event, complete with tears and anguish. From their reaction to it as well as the vow they declare to never attend one again, it was also mind-numbing. Their job is to write about it. And as they write they talk.

    The conversation is clever:

    MR. FITCH
    …Now, who was at the parties? Which was the first? Something about a theater.
    MRS. FITCH
    (Trying to place it)
    Theater? Theater?
    MR. FITCH
    Yes, you know, theater. That thing that movie people do when they want to announce they’re available for television.

    They run down a list of people who were at the event: She-Who-Will-Not-Be-Ignored – a last addition to the evening cigarette puffed her way through her toast to a Drug Free America. Various other famous people with clichés for names are listed and dismissed. Himself-The-Elf was there, along with His Impoverished Lordship and Generalissimo de la Horror Show. Everyone and everything is raked over the preverbal coals including the subject of blogs (here pronounced b-l-a-h-g-s, emphasis on the blah) and their editor whom they call Such Norman. Off the column goes via email. Just as it is sent they discover that Tall and Frosted, who they reported as being AT the event, was, in fact breathing her last breaths in far away California. Oops.

    When an angry call is received from Such Norman regarding the Tall And Frosted gaff, they also learn that their final paragraph comes up empty. A bad final paragraph is worse that an Oops. The Fitch twosome face the fact that their column has been sliding in the popularity polls. Their livelihood is officially on the line.

    What to do? What to do? Well, when reality is boring beyond belief there is always fiction, isn’t there? M/M Fitch make the bold choice of inventing The Man Who Wasn’t There.

    Jamie for a first name and for the last name…

    MR. FITCH
    Thank you. How about Glenn? Jamie Glenn.
    MRS. FITCH
    Glenn. Yes. A direct descendant of the people who invented the narrow secluded valley.

    I told you it was clever.

    So into the column goes Jamie Glenn, an anonymous posting is placed on the Internet posting, and off the Fitch’s go for a night of romping and sleeping.

    The next day finds Jamie Glenn embraced as a Person To Watch (if you can find him) by the New York Press and the Fitch’s are invited to the Semi-Annual Ass Kisser’s Ball. All good deeds come to an end, however, when one of the anonymous persons aforementioned reveals himself to be the real Jamie Glenn. The Fitch’s have been hoisted by their own petard. They cannot admit what they have done. They cannot kill Jamie Glenn off, much as they would like to.

    Instead they begin work on an ancient book project that Mr. Fitch started years ago when he still thought of himself as a real writer – America: A Prophecy. The play closes with the two of them eeking out the first few words of the first paragraph.

    The end.

    Mr. & Mrs. Fitch is a frivolous story about a frivolous couple who speak in metaphors with barely a grammatical contraction in sight. Lithgow and Ehle are having great fun tossing verbiage back and forth. And they do follow the trail of a story like pigeons following breadcrumbs down the sidewalk. But they never get to the source. Or is it that they never get to the end? No matter. They wander. They wander and talk and wander and talk.

    To quote Mr. Fitch this show has “all the earmarks of a point of view without an actual point of view, which for us, works.”

    Bully for them. I, on the other hand, left the theatre hungry for, well, theatre.

    (Tulis McCall)

    "It’s the sound of two astute, talented and probably miscast performers trying hard to convince themselves and their audience that really, honestly, this is all so much fun."
    Ben Brantley for New York Times

    "So awkward and unfunny, it's almost scandalous."
    Joe Dziemianowicz for NY Daily News

    "Gossip is news that's entertaining. Well, this wasn't."
    Cindy Adams for NY Post

    "Histrionics extend beyond ordinary hamming, with almost every utterance tortured into a witticism that is nevertheless stillborn. "
    John Simon for Bloomberg

    "Offers all the dramatic nourishment of a tray of hors d'oeuvres."
    David Sheward for Back Stage

    "Rams its erudition down your throat with a wearing rat-tat-tat of pop-cultural and literary references"
    David Rooney for Variety

    External links to full reviews from popular press...

    New York Times - New York Daily News - New York Post - Bloomberg - Back Stage - Variety