Posted in based on a true story or event, drama, historical drama, Joe Alsop, Regrets, The Columnist

Secrets and Evasions

Repressive regimes– like the communism that the journalist and “Cold Warrior” Joseph Alsop detested or the equally unsavory home-grown witch-hunting of Joseph McCarthy– breed secrecy and fear.

In David Auburn’s “The Columnist,” at MTC’s Samuel J. Friedman Theatre extended to June 24th again through July 1st, Joe Alsop (John Lithgow) hides the open secret of his homosexuality in a marriage to his best friend’s widow, Susan Mary Alsop (Margaret Colin.)


John Lithgow as Joseph Alsop with Margaret Colin as Susan Mary Alsop Photo © Joan Marcus.

Alsop is as guarded about his personal life as he is aggressive in his professional activities. Joseph Alsop’s was a liberal’s conservative, anti McCarthy, and as excited by the Kennedy presidency as he was hostile to LBJ’s good ole boy politics. He called both the Cold and Vietnam Wars all wrong but stayed the course even as his patrician accent and bespoke wardrobe went out of fashion. His gleeful quest for power and influence made him a much less reliable witness to history than his brother and one-time writing partner, Stewart (Boyd Gaines.)

John Lithgow as Joseph Alsop with Boyd Gaines as Stewart Alsop Photo © Joan Marcus.

Everyone in the cast of “The Columnist” is excellent, with John Lithgow in the lead giving an affecting portrayal of the work-aholic newspaperman. Grace Gummer, as Susan Mary’s daughter Abigail, makes the most of her role as a foil to her stodgy stepfather.

Stephen Kunken-as David Halberstam with Boyd Gaines as Stewart Alsop Photo © Joan Marcus.

While “The Columnist” has a steady foothold in the machinations of Washington politicking, Matt Charman’s “Regrets.” at MTC’s NY City Center Stage I through April 29th, takes a regrettable detour into McCarthy-era politics.

TONY NEWS: or is it? John Lithgow is a nominee for 2012 Best Actor in a Drama!

In “Regrets,” a group of men camp out in a Reno bungalow colony to establish residency. They are each bruised by their broken marriages. Mrs. Duke’s (Adriane Lenox) cabins are a way-station for their lost souls.

Adriane Lenox as Mrs. Duke and Ansel Elgort as Caleb Farley in “Regrets.” Photo © Carol Rosegg.

“Regrets” delves into a different kettle of secrets than those of “The Columnist.” The twist that turns “Regrets” onto a political pathway is either inspired or unnecessary– depending on your point of view. The horrors of hiding from McCarthy are real enough, but in this reviewer’s opionion, they lend an air of unreality to this pleasant and interesting drama about the relationships of unmoored men. Ben Clancy (Brian Hutchison), Gerald Driscoll (Lucas Caleb Rooney), and Alvin Novotny (Richard Topol) welcome the newcomer, Caleb Farley (Ansel Elgort) with the wariness of those trapped far from home.

Brian Hutchison as Ben Clancy, Ansel Elgort as Caleb Farley, Richard Topol as Alvin Novotny and Lucas Caleb Rooney as Gerald Driscoll in “Regrets.” Photo © Carol Rosegg.

The cast all give sterling performances, but the rookie, Ansel Elgort, making his professional debut, is definitely a stand-out.

For more information on “The Columnist” , please visit http://www.manhattantheatreclub.com/
where you will also find videos from the production.

To get tickets for “Regrets” before it closes on Sunday, go to http://regretsplay.com/