(Charles Isherwood’s article appeared in The New York Times, 2/8.)
There are not many fixed verities in the world of the theater, but one of the few is that when A.R. Gurney returns to home territory — writing about the manners and morals of the white Anglo-Saxon Protestant upper class — the results will most likely be gratifying. Mr. Gurney’s “Black Tie,” which opened on Tuesday night at the 59E59 Theaters, is one of this prolific writer’s most enjoyable plays in years, a modest but effortlessly engaging comedy about the generational shifts in the subset of humanity Mr. Gurney has been writing about with warmth, humor and insight throughout his career.
Directed with a deft touch by Mark Lamos, Primary Stages’ production is adorned by a suave comic performance from Daniel Davis, portraying an exemplar of a certain class of man from the early-to-mid-20th century. He’s the father of Curtis (Gregg Edelman), who is the father of the groom at a wedding in upstate New York. Curtis’s dear old dad is also, strictly speaking, dead, although this does not prevent him from offering copious advice to his son about how a proper wedding is properly brought off.