Black Tie @ at Primary Stages 59E59 Street

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A play like A.R. Gurney’s Black Tie could only have an airing at the spectacular upper-east side Primary Stages space. Centering around Daniel Davis’ scrumptious turn as Byron quoting, man-of-manners and high dress “Curtis’ Father” and “Curtis,” played with commanding relish by Gregg Edelman, is really everything one (or at least me) wants in a theater comedy. Mark Lamos’ direction is subtle, allowing for Davis to saunter in and out advising, pontificating and pondering-he is a ghost after all-the action happening in the one-room set hotel room in upstate New York. Carolyn McCormick as “Mimi,” the mom in this little tale of a wedding rehearsal dinner going slowly awry is every bit as good as her male counterparts, at times providing the foil to Curtis and by proxy his father’s stuffy ‘Republican’ ways, at other times providing support to the mayhem.

Black Tie could have easily turned into a farce with Davis’s turns, asides and always perfect timing (I don’t recall witnessing such perfect comic timing really), perfectly planned one-liners and the two ‘kids’, played here by Elvy Yost and Ari Brand coming in and out of the room (mostly Yost) to deliver updates on the proceedings, but it doesn’t…not that there is anything wrong with farce. This play is simply something we don’t see much of these days; a well-written, well-acted, hour-and-a-half that keeps you laughing, interjects a fair amount of ideas and doesn’t over stay its welcome.

Black Tie runs through Saturday, March 20, 2011 at Primary Stages 59E59 Street. For more information and to purchase tickets, go to http://primarystages.org/blacktie.

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