* Written by Evan Smith * Directed by Richard Cottrell * Starring Dana Ivey and Roger Rees

Another theatrical *hommage* to 19th century literature opened around the same time as *The Mystery of Irma Vep* only one block away at Playwrights Horizons. In Evan Smith’s *The Uneasy Chair*, the dependably delectable Dana Ivey (who inaugurated the title role of *Driving Miss Daisy* at Playwrights Horizons’ tiny upstairs studio) plays Miss Amelia Pickles, who agrees to let the available room in her boarding house in a fashionable London district to one Captain Josiah Wickett, played by Roger Rees (who achieved international acclaim in the title of role of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s adaptation of Dickens’ *Nicholas Nickleby*). This comedy of ulterior motives tracks their 25-year relationship from landlord-tenant to legal adveraries to reluctant spouses to Beckettian roommates in a nursing home -- during which time these two scrupulously withhold from each other what they’re *really* thinking, which they share in stylized addresses to the audience. The play is a remarkable stretch for Evan Smith, who was last seen at Playwrights Horizons as a teenaged participant in the Young Playwrights’ Festival with *Remedial English*, his hilarious one-act about a gay high-schooler hired to tutor a hunky but dumb classmate. On one level an expert if tame boulevard drama with juicy roles for terrific actors, *The Uneasy Chair* also reflects a gay observer’s shrewd attention to the absurdities of heterosexual mating, not unlike Christopher Durang’s minor masterpiece *The Marriage of Bette and Boo.*

The Advocate, November 10, 1998

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