"AFTER MY OWN HEART" would like to be known as a romantic comedy. Unfortunately for the financially endangered New Playwrights' Theater, it is neither.
A gaseous attempt at updating and urbanizing the familiar love triangle, it is a wearying evening -- a waste of two hours and so many, many words.
"I feel like I'm stuck in a Rod Serling soap," sighs the harridan Elise, the evening's main antagonist, who exerts an unfathomable attraction for two equally sorry men. Would that this play could boast Serling's imagination.
Anyway, Elise is living with Kevin, a sculptor, and on this particular evening her estranged husband Jonathan shows up. But Elise hasn't told her sculptor that she is still married, and so we are fated to spend the next two hours hearing Elise gasp and carp and generally make herself unpleasant. Elise also has a sister, an ex-receptionist who dresses too young for her age and who shows up pregnant for no apparent plot- enhancing purpose. After a few minutes with these vapid people, one begins to think playwright Paul J. Donnelly Jr. dropped in on the wrong apartment.
After quickly setting the scenario, Donnelly shifts immediately into Park and lets the characters race their engines, tediously bickering and ranting about love and devotion, concepts which seem utterly alien to them.
In his attempt to appear feminist and fair, Donnelly falls into a reverse trap, creating instead shrewish, overbearing women and whiny, witless men who stand around all puffing and petulant. Nearly all of the conversation -- which more nearly resembles four monologues delivered simultaneously -- is on the level of the following: "No, no, no, no. I don't mean no, but I mean, oh (expletive deleted)." Noel Coward it ain't.
Arthur Bartow directs at such a breakneck pace that one is led to believe either Donnelly has written his script with no punctuation or Bartow wants to get the evening over with as soon as possible.
AFTER MY OWN HEART -- At New Playwrights' Theater through June 23.