Stage » Theater Reviews + Features

The Dance on Widow's Row at New Horizon Theater

Billed as a romantic comedy, the show extends uncommonly far into both romance and comedy

by

comment

The pace of youth is fast, if that makes sense. From beach-party movies to skateboarding videos, the stories of the youth of one decade are often incomprehensible to youth of the following decade.

Age, in this regard, ages more slowly than youth. New Horizon is mounting another run of The Dance on Widow's Row, written by Samm-Art Williams, and directed by Eileen J. Morris, who previously directed the show in 2003. In Widow's Row, a group of four widows hosts a party to try to revive their reputations. The gags are fast and evergreen. Magnolia, the host, played by Linda Haston, puts her late husband's picture away, informing him, "I gave you a good funeral, so we're even."

Casting for this show was excellent, particularly Brenda Marks as Lois, who most emphatically did not poison either of her husbands, but even if she did, they deserved it. Marks' performance as a kind of mad scientist of cooking is without compare. New Horizon also got the eminently charming Charles Timbers Jr., who is rapidly becoming one of my favorite actors in Pittsburgh, as the romantic lead. He brings an easygoing attitude that grounds the show's sillier aspects in reality — for the most part.

Billed as a romantic comedy, The Dance on Widow's Row extends uncommonly far into both romance and comedy. The comedy gets quite funny, and the romance is of the slowdancing-to-the-classics variety. It's in these extremes that the show's one odd point reveals itself.

You know how in some shows there's a tonal mismatch, like when, say, Hamlet is struggling with the knowledge that his uncle killed his mom, and then Polonius shows up and kills the brooding mood with a bunch of pompous verbiage? It's not always a bad thing (see: Hamlet). But in contemporary shows like this one, where the people talk like people, if everyone blithely accepts weirdness, you're left questioning your grip on reality. That disconnect makes the final 20 minutes or so of Widow's Row — I'm trying not to spoil a second-act twist — the sort that will be on your mind for days. Give it a look.

Add a comment