Vogue USA - 04.2020

(singke) #1




you were obliged to spend the twelve days
of Christmas shouting through a door?”
“You’ll find that was my lord Suffolk,”
the duke says shortly. “Another useless
dotard, eh, Gregory? That’s Charles
Brandon over there—the mighty fellow
with the big beard. I am the stringy fellow
with the bad temper. See the difference?”
“Ah,” Gregory says, “I remember now.
My father enjoyed the tale so much, we
performed it as a play at Twelfth Night.
My cousin Richard played my lord Suf-
folk, wearing a woolly beard to his waist.
And Mr. Rafe Sadler put on a skirt and
played the queen, insulting the duke in
the Spanish tongue. And my father took
the part of the door.”
“I wish I had seen it.” Norfolk rubs the
tip of his nose. “No, I tell you, Gregory,
I honestly do.” He and Charles Bran-
don are old rivals, and enjoy each other’s
embarrassments. “I wonder what you’ll
play this Christmas?”
Gregory opens his mouth and closes
it again. The future is a curious blank.
He, Cromwell, intervenes, before his son
attempts to fill it. “Gentlemen, I can tell
you what the new queen will take as her
motto. It is Bound to Obey and Serve.”
There is a murmur of approbation that
runs right around the room. Brandon’s
big laugh booms out: “Better safe than
sorry, eh?”
“So say we all.” Norfolk tips back
his Canary wine. “Whoever crosses the
king in the years ahead, gentlemen, it
will not be Thomas Howard here.” He
stabs a finger into his own breastbone,
as if otherwise they might not know who
he is. Then he slaps Master Secretary on
the shoulder, with every appearance of
comradeship. “So what now, Cromwell?”
Don’t be deceived. Uncle Norfolk is not
our comrade or our ally or our friend. He
is slapping us to appraise how solid we are.
He is eyeing the Cromwell bull-neck. He is
wondering what sort of blade you’d need,
to slice through that. @

jeans and Ugg shoes, says, “that explore
the complexity—and, sometimes, pain—
of marriage and relationships.”
“Well, yes, there’s that, too,” Broder-
ick says in his stolid deadpan. “Even if
something is making you laugh, it can be
a very serious exploration of the human
condition. That’s a pretentious thing to
say, but you know what I mean.”
When Plaza Suite opened in 1968,
starring George C. Scott and Maureen
Stapleton, under the direction of Mike

Nichols, Simon reigned over Broadway
as the most popular dramatist, comic or
otherwise, of his generation (at the time,
his plays had had more performances
than those of Tennessee Williams, Arthur
Miller, Edward Albee, and William Inge
combined), earning him the unofficial
title of the most successful playwright
after Shakespeare. The previous season,
Simon had four comedies running at
the same time, among them Barefoot
in the Park and The Odd Couple, the
monster hits that put him on the map.
Taken together, his work and sensibility
helped shape the landscape of American
commercial theater—and, more broad-
ly, comedy—in the second half of the
20th century.
Simon specialized in rock-solid comic
premises spun into meticulously crafted
plays, punctuated by the zing of one-lin-
ers, that allowed middle-class audiences
to laugh at their own foibles and anxi-
eties without asking them to look too
deeply into what lay beneath them. And
though Simon, two years after his death
at 91, remains one of the most produced
playwrights in the country, after a string
of wanly received revivals of The Odd
Couple, Barefoot in the Park, Promises,
Promises, and Brighton Beach Memoirs,
his work has remained absent from the
Broadway boards for almost a decade.
Now, returning to Broadway for the
first time since its original production,
comes Plaza Suite, which tells three
stories set in the same hotel room: A
middle-aged couple arrive to celebrate
their anniversary, only to see their mar-
riage unravel; a hotshot Hollywood pro-
ducer invites his high school crush up for
drinks and a seduction; and bickering
parents of the bride try to talk their pan-
icked daughter out of a locked bathroom
and down the aisle. On the surface, it
seems as of-its-time as beleaguered exec-
utives decrying women’s lib. But, says the
new production’s director, John Benjamin
Hickey, “it has so much to say about who
we are as people who love and break each
other’s hearts and marry off our kids that,
if we do our job, it can still seem as fresh
as when it first opened. It’s like we’ve
unearthed this treasure.”
Plaza Suite’s road to Broadway began
when Hickey, an old friend of Parker and
Broderick’s (who is better known as an
actor, most recently in The Inheritance),
asked them to do a one-night-only read-
ing of it at New York’s Symphony Space.
Afterward, Broderick says, “I remem-
ber us both thinking, God, wouldn’t it
be fun to actually do a play like that?”
Things snowballed from there. Though
the couple had performed together once

before (when Parker joined her future
husband as his love interest for the last
four months of his run in the 1995 revival
of How to Succeed in Business Without
Really Trying), bringing their partnership
to the stage was never on their bucket list.
“We had not been dreaming, hoping,
plotting, begging: What is going to be the
thing where we finally work together?”
Parker says. “We were very satisfied with
how we pursued our own careers sepa-
rately, and I loved being his audience.”
Nevertheless, Parker and Broderick’s
appearing together in this particular
comedy feels not just right but almost
inevitable. Broderick made both his
Broadway debut (Brighton Beach Mem-
oirs) and Hollywood debut (Max Dugan
Returns) in Simon-penned vehicles, and
he has an unmatched gift for making the
jokey cadences of his neurotic characters
feel natural and lived-in. And though he
has never lost the youthful exuberance
that made him a star in Ferris Bueller’s
Day Off, he has also, in such films as Elec-
tion and You Can Count On Me, adroitly
captured the melancholy failings and
compromises of male adulthood—both
qualities that will serve him well here
playing Simon’s man-boys.
No actor, of course, is more identified
with New York than Parker, whose Carrie
Bradshaw came to embody the plucky
hopefulness and hard-won cynicism of
young women looking for love in a mod-
ern metropolis. In 2016, she returned to
HBO for three seasons to continue explor-
ing the queasy roller coaster of love and
marriage on Divorce, and taking on the
unhappy women of Plaza Suite feels like
a natural progression. “This particular
time was a very interesting moment for
men and women—and a massive turning
point politically,” she says.
For Hickey, this production offers the
perfect marriage of performers and roles.
“Sarah and Matthew are extraordinary,
incredibly skilled actors, both of whom
we’ve known, as audiences, for a very,
very long time,” Hickey says. “We’ve
watched them grow up, get married, and
become middle-aged people—and here
they’re playing these couples who’ve been
married for many years. I think that adds
a kind of wonderful meta-level to it.”
As it happens, next month Parker and
Broderick, who have a 17-year-old son,
James, and twin 10-year-old daughters,
Marion and Tabitha, will celebrate their
23rd wedding anniversary, just like Karen
and Sam Nash, the doomed couple they
portray in Visitor From Mamaroneck,
the evening’s first play and the darkest
and most ambitious. That, they insist,
is where the resemblance between them
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