New works by Murray Schisgal, Stuart Sherman.; Exercise in comic arithmetic -- and an offbeat look at Hamlet; Twice Around the Park Comedy by Murray Schisgal. Starring Anne Jackson, Eli Wallach. Directed by Arthur Storch.
New York — Murray Schisgal has responded to the age of women cops and the jogging mania with an exercise in comic arithmetic. Two nimble performances by two accomplished players - Anne Jackson and her husband, Eli Wallach - add up to ''Twice Around the Park.'' The sketchy double bill at the Cort Theater, subtitled ''A New York Comedy,'' presents two male-female confrontations, one to the east and one to the west of Central Park. Each encounter contains its quota of Schisgal wackiness and broad satire.
The first playlet casts Mr. Wallach as an unemployed actor with a very loud stereo and Miss Jackson as his upstairs neighbor, a policewoman fully prepared to issue a noise-violation summons. Each of the contending neighbors has been scarred by previous bad marriages. Each is aggressively primed. Mr. Schisgal takes it from there. On the east side of the park, the Wallachs play a middle-aged couple trying to rescue their marriage by performing an exercise ritual to the tape-recorded instructions of a sonorous-voiced marriage counselor , in Mr. Schisgal's best lampooning manner.
As comic philosopher, the playwright is concerned with the status of women - whether in the case of policewoman Margaret, with her no-nonsense constabulary accouterments, or domesticated Edie, for whom feminist consciousness-raising came too late. As a satirist, Mr. Schisgal can create the kind of devastating parody represented in the disembodied cassette voice of Dr. Oliovsky (Paulson Mathews), one of those fashionable guru-therapists who batten on the insecurities and sexual anxieties of well-heeled but bewildered urbanites.
In either case, Miss Jackson and Mr. Wallach play the lightweight adult nonsense for all it's worth - and perhaps a little bit more. They know the Schisgal territory.
''Twice Around the Park'' has been staged with flourish by Arthur Storch. The east- and west-side apartment settings were designed by James Tilton. Ruth Morley provided the costumes, including a forest-green velour jogging outfit and gold Gucci chains for Mr. Wallach. The lighting is by Judy Rasmuson and the all-important sound effects by David S. Schnirman.