T.J. EDWARDS' "New York Mets" is a deeply affecting, deeply funny gem about love among underdogs. The second in Woolly Mammoth's three-play repertory season, this polished, marvelously acted production scores the second home run of the Woolly's belated season.
Phil, the ample proprietor of Phil's Typewriter Repair and Manuscript Service, has decided that he is in love with officemate Rosie, a published poet who must endure fetching coffee and typing other people's horrendous manuscripts. Rosie, for her part, politely avoids a confrontation with Phil and keeps her affections private. Another habitue' of the cramped office is Ernie, a money-plagued hack who keeps a Ralph Cramden/Ed Norton routine running with Phil.
Phil, Rosie and Ernie all make their livings working with words in one way or another, but words fail them when it comes to sorting out and expressing their own delicate feelings. Given all the submerged tensions among these three, something telling occasionally bubbles spontaneously out of their banal baseball talk and other procrastinating routines. Gradually the watermarks of their ambiguous relationships become visible, and "New York Mets" gently suggests that there may be room in this world for all kinds of love.
Washingtonian Edwards is a promising playwright who subtly develops his theme and handles his left-field characters with affection and insight. Edwards knows his way around dialogue, and his imitations of bad writing are deliriously funny.
Nancy Robinette gives a revelatory performance as the much put-upon Rosie, whose enigmatic face fleetingly reflects depths of sweetness, sympathy and frustration. Robinette has a quirky way with comedy, and tickles laughs from her readings of customers' offensively awful manuscripts. Michael Willis excels as big Phil, who blusters and lectures to cover his own insecurity and self-hatred. Grover Gardner's Ernie is a gawky, affection-starved nerd, a winning combination of Jerry Lewis' absent-minded professor shtick and Art Carney's knucklecracking annoying mannerisms.
First-time director Ernie Meyers shows a tremendous sensitivity to his actors and an eye for gesture. The set, a dingy, David Mamet-ish office designed by Ronald J. Olsen and lit by Steve Summers, is perfectly scaled and detailed. .
NEW YORK METS -- At Woolly Mammoth Theater (Church of the Epiphany, 1317 G St. NW) in rotating repertory through July.