Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

BWW Review: Angelina Fiordellisi and Michael O'Keefe Are Charming As Older Leftists in Charles Mee's FIRST LOVE

Is there anything more charming than watching two older people falling in love? Well, perhaps. Like when the romance occurs, as instructed by playwright Charles Mee in his 2001 one-act, FIRST LOVE, in "the world of Magritte."

BWW Review:  Angelina Fiordellisi and Michael O'Keefe Are Charming As Older Leftists in Charles Mee's FIRST LOVE
Angelina Fiordellisi, Michael O'Keefe and
Taylor Harvey (Photo: Monique Carboni)

Add the delightful performances of Michael O'Keefe and Angelina Fiordellisi, as a pair of old-school leftists bonding over common pasts, place it all in that intimate Greenwich Village jewel box, the Cherry Lane Theatre, and you have a sweet, funny and quirky way to pass a bit of time.

Better known for his borderline absurdist frolics and reconstructions of previous texts, FIRST LOVE is rather accessible Mee by comparison. For director Kim Weild's whimsical production, set designer Edward Pierce does indeed present a colorful setting in the surrealist style of René Magritte, accented by a bright green bench in a grassy park, which sits beneath a powder blue sky that contains a shuttered window and a working door. There's a tall tree behind a short blue wall, but somehow its bark begins in front of it.

O'Keefe's scruffy Harold is taking up the whole bench for his afternoon nap when Fiordellisi's no-nonsense Edith instructs him to move so she may sit. ("Shove up!" are her exact words.)

But she offers him a little nip from her bottle of sherry to show there's no hard feelings and soon they're discussing the heroes of their youth: Fritz Reiner, Abby Hoffmann, Jerry Rubin, Lenny Bruce and Allen Ginsberg among them.

BWW Review:  Angelina Fiordellisi and Michael O'Keefe Are Charming As Older Leftists in Charles Mee's FIRST LOVE
Angelina Fiordellisi and Michael O'Keefe
(Photo: Monique Carboni)

They mourn the fall of Russian communism and the loss of a necessary opposition. ("I never said I loved Stalin but where is the inhibition any more if the bastards know you have nowhere else to turn.")

As per the author's instructions, the setting is both indoors and outdoors, so it's an easy move when they venture to her apartment for an impromptu concert. He sings "For Sentimental Reasons," she sings "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered," they duet "September Song" and then things get intimate.

Helping to provide a proper atmosphere is a quiet young woman (Taylor Harvey) who wears designer Theresa Squire's flowing dresses, sometimes sporting a bowler hat, smoking a pipe or balancing herself with a red umbrella while toe dancing.

FIRST LOVE is by no means the deepest play you'll ever encounter, but it's a sweet little abstract delight.


Related Articles

From This Author Michael Dale