Tuesday, October 20, 2020

357. NO HARD FEELINGS. From my (unpublished) ENCYCLOPEDIA OF THE NEW YORK STAGE, 1970-1975

Nanette Fabray, Eddie Albert.

[Comedy/Marriage/Romance] A: Sam Bobrick and Ron Clark; D: Abe Burrows; S/L: Robert Randolph; C: Theoni V. Aldredge; P: Orin Lehman, Joseph Kipness, and Lawrence Kasha; T: Martin Beck Theatre; 4/8/73 (1)

Stockard Channing, Nanette Fabray, Conrad Janis, Eddie Albert, A. Larry Haines.

Even with the rash of one-night flops in the early 70s, it’s still hard to imagine one directed by Abe Burrows with a cast including Eddie Albert, Nanette Fabray, Conrad Janis, and young Stockard Channing. But such was the fate of No Hard Feelings, an inane marital farce about George Bartlett (Albert) and his wife, Roberta (Fabray), a suburban, middle-aged couple. After marrying off their daughter (Channing), they separate when Roberta announces she has fallen in love with Jimmy Skouras (Janis), a Greek waiter 14 years her husband’s junior.

George tries everything he can to win back his spouse, but must instead suffer the indignity of seeing her grow pregnant by and then marry her lover. George loses his temper, shoots Jimmy in the foot, is given a suspended sentence, and, a year later, visits Roberta to make up. His newfound friendly attitude, however, is beginning to disintegrate when the curtain falls.

Fast moving and often funny, the comedy could not conquer the obstacles of cardboard characters, mechanical plotting, lack of feeling, and a crateful of hard-driving, obvious gags. There was “total mindlessness and near total witlessness,” said John Simon of a play Douglas Watt dubbed “this pathetic little farce” and Clive Barnes dismissed as “efficient, glossy and heartless.”