Stage West’s production of ‘Chapter 2’ is lovely

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Neil Simon is a famous playwright, who is known for The Odd Couple and his play Chapter 2 is running at Stage West right now. The play premiered on Broadway in 1977, and ran for 857 performances. Simon wrote the play as a tribute to his second wife, Marsha Mason. It is obvious how dated the script is, as the characters on stage have landlines and no caller ID and are still speaking on rotary phones. The thing about Chapter 2 that remains relevant is dealing with deep loss and trying to move forward. Simon’s script and Stage West’s production is lovely and Chapter 2 is a thoughtful theatre piece.

The play starts shortly after author George Schneider’s (David Silvestri) wife Barbara dies. He has been deep in the depths of grief and is still in the disbelief and shock stage of loss. His brother Leo (Luke Marty) is striving to be a companion and get him out of the house. Leo is pushing George to date, to which George refuses because all of Leo’s setups have been disasters. Meanwhile Jennie (Kristi Woods) has just finalized her divorce and is focusing on herself. Her friend Faye (Susie Burnett) is supporting her newfound single life and is also trying to set her up on dates. Leo and Faye wind up setting up George and Jennie and sparks fly. They plan to get married after two and a half weeks of dating.

The artists on stage are talented and embody their characters deeply. Silvestri gives an amazing performance as George and the scene where he sobs in grief is poignant. Director J. Sean Elliott gives the play a great pace and brings the best out of the cast. Anton de Groot’s set design is brilliant with the stage divided with George’s apartment stage left and Jennie’s apartment stage right. The details are thoughtful, ensuring that both living spaces are not too crowded and that there isn’t a disparity in quality of furnishing. Kris Mish’s lighting design along with Jen Gareau’s costume design and Zach Coulter’s sound design all come together to create the world of Chapter 2.

Stage West’s production of Neil Simon’s Chapter 2 is a deep story that examines some thoughtful questions about grief and loss and knowing yourself. It’s worth going to see, even though it takes a bit of time to warm up.

Stage West’s production of Chapter 2 runs until April 14th. Tickets and more information is available online.

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