I saw “Present Laughter”



What I saw: “Present Laughter,” a revival of a Noël Coward play, starring Kevin Kline at the St. James Theater on West  44th Street in Manhattan.



What I did beforehand: dinner at the upscale and modern Chinese restaurant Hakkasan at 311 W 43rd St. Some reviews dismiss it as being part of a chain. Pre-theater dinner options are limited, and this place is very good. Show up early and grab cocktails in the bar.


Something I ate: hot and sour soup with chicken and chocolate passion fruit dessert 

What I wore: a weird combination of a new sweater and tweed skirt, with tights. I should have worn wool tights, but I don’t have black ones. And a black Barbour down coat that is too tight in the arms and shoulders when worn over a sweater. 


Who went with me: the Bacon Provider and a lot of eager Kevin Kline fans.


How I got tickets: online, from Ticketmaster. Alas, they require you to pay quite a bit extra to get physical tickets, so I had to do the print-at-home deal. My preferred plan is to pick up tickets at will-call, so I don’t have to wait for them to come in the mail, store them, and remember to bring them. An 8 1/2 by 11” sheet of paper from my computer’s printer with a bar code and some boxes of text describing the event is no substitute for actual tickets. Real tickets are memorabilia. E-tickets are trash.


Why I saw this show: I grew up in the same suburban St. Louis neighborhood as Kevin Kline, and back in the 80s I thought he was hilarious and brilliant.


Where I sat: Mezzanine Row A, seat 109, between my husband and a distracting woman who took up a lot of oxygen if not space.


Things that were sad: the acoustics were meh. I think the play would be better in a slightly smaller venue. 

Things that were funny: the chain-smoking Swedish housekeeper, the aggressive Trump-style injurious handshake of the wacky playwright, the baby-men business partners, slamming doors, ringing phones and doorbells. Kevin Kline is still hilarious and brilliant. What a joy to see great physical comedy live on stage. 

Things that were not funny: the actor who played the secretary seems to have been injured in the first act, and was wearing a bandage on her left wrist in the second act. The coffee that was served onstage over and over was said to taste like curry but in my excellent seats I could see plainly that it was water.   


What it is: another vehicle for an aging-but-vibrant actor; also a funny mid-20th Century farce from a true master of the genre about an aging-but-vibrant actor. 

Who should see it:  backstage comedy devotees, Kate Burton buffs, dressing gown enthusiasts, forties fashion fanciers, fools for redheads, Matt Bittner freaks, Ellen Harvey hounds, latchkey lovers, hat mavens, Noël Coward nuts, suckers for the mellifluous baritone of Peter Francis James, Reg Rogers regulars, Kristine Nielsen groupies; admirers of Tedra Millan (it’s her Broadway debut), Kevin Kline cultists, disciples of Cobie Smulders, and Bhavesh Patel boosters.


What I saw on the way home: jackhammers


I saw "Turn Me Loose"

What I saw: “Turn Me Loose,” a play at the Westside Theater on W 43rd between 9th and 10th Avenues

What I wore: black Free People top that’s either an embroidered peasant blouse or a much-too-short mini-dress that I wear with pants, new white 7 for all mankind relaxed-hem jeans, orange Puma sneakers.

What I did beforehand: had lunch with the Bacon Provider and came home thinking that the only way I could avoid housework was to go to a matinee. After that matinee, I changed clothes. And I had a cappuccino and a cookie.

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Who went with me: Phylicia Rashad and Larry Wilmore.

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How I got tickets: a couple of weeks ago, online.

Why I saw this show: Even President Obama loves Dick Gregory.


Where I sat: A 108, front row, on the end

Things that were sad: “I never learned hate at home, or shame. I had to go to school for that.” 

Things that were funny: Dick Gregory’s stand-up is uncompromisingly forthright and quite funny.

Things that were not funny: the state of Mississippi took 31 years to bring the killer of Dick Gregory’s friend and colleague Medgar Evers to justice.

What it is: a play about comedian and civil rights activist Dick Gregory, in his own words.

Who should see it: people who like to laugh, fans of Joe Morton, liberals, heckling Klansmen, social justice warriors.



What I saw on the way home: taxi-cabs, heading uptown, as if this city was fair and equal and anyone could catch one.

I saw "Thank God for Jokes"

What I saw: Mike Birbiglia’s “Thank God for Jokes” at the Lynn Redgrave Theater, 45 Bleecker Street in NoHo, NYC

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What I wore: pale purple Eileen Fisher long-sleeve jersey top that is starting to seem too small; long, sleeveless Vince cardigan that is ombre-dyed purple at the top and black at the bottom and it came with this stretchy elastic belt that fits into tiny belt loops that place it right up under my boobs and so obviously I’ve never worn it with the belt and honestly where is that belt anyway; favorite SkarGorn Thorn slouchy jeans that I bought in San Francisco back when I thought we were moving to California; Danner belt, real dangly purple titanium earrings that were a gift from my mother in the 80s; Dubarry boots that I bought at a horseshow at Thunderbird in Langley, B.C. in the early 2000s from an Irish salesperson who was standing in a tub of water to demonstrate the water-proofing. Someone asked me to take a selfie and I tried but I looked like an asshole in both attempts.

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What I did beforehand: drove to the city, and did not almost get run off the Saw Mill Parkway by a white SUV, NY license number CMP-27** that tried to do that on Wednesday. Took the 7 from the new station at 34th St. to the downtown 6. Got coffee at Gasoline Alley. Sat on a bench and watched people do NoHo. 

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Who went with me: my friend, who I’ve known 18 years, and her new-ish girlfriend, who is so much better than the sum of the parade of crummy boyfriends she had over the years that I almost don’t want to say anything about it here.

How I got tickets: online, full price, though my guests paid for dinner afterward at Siggy’s on Elizabeth Street



Why I saw this show: because Mike Birbiglia is funny, and I heard that Ben Stiller and Nathan Lane liked this show, too.

Where I sat: third row, with empty seats in front of me. Those no-shows missed out big time.

Things that were sad: When Mike Birbiglia asked the audience if anyone had ever been arrested, a guy in the front row said he was, for “hurting someone.” Mike pursued the story’s details, and revealed that someone kicked the guy’s dog on the street in Chelsea, and both Mike and the audience thought he was sort of a hero for “hurting someone.” Then, it turned out a cop saw it, handcuffed him (which is why he said he got arrested), put him in the NYPD cruiser, drove around the corner and let him go. The guy was white, of course. 

Things that were funny: all 80 minutes

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Things that were not funny: whether the toilets in the ladies room were actually going to successfully flush was an issue of some stress for the lady-people using them. Also, I told a story at dinner afterwards about a pair of $410 red Italian sneakers that I found online and because the Bacon Provider had joined us for dinner, he is now trying to convince me to get them.

What it is: an absolutely solid hour and a half of conversational stand-up, woven into stories from Mike B’s life

Who should see it: fans of Twitter, fans of Mike Birbiglia, people who went to Catholic school who can tolerate a little bit of cussing, Mike’s mom

What I saw on the way home: we had dinner at Siggy’s around the corner, and were the last to leave. The subway stop nearby had a sign about nighttime uptown closures, requiring riders to catch a downtown train and switch and that seemed way more complicated than catching a cab. So we took a cab, and I was carsick.