'60s activism humorously revisited in Off Broadway revival
New York — Division Street Play by Steve Tesich. Directed by Risa Bramon. Knockabout farce jostles social satire and recent history in ``Division Street,'' at the Second Stage. Steve Tesich's reworking of his short-lived 1980 Broadway entry demonstrates its comic sturdiness and cartoon-style caricature in the perky production staged by Risa Bramon. Formula follows function - the function being to take a humorous look at some 1960s protesters in the cold light of the '80s.
Erstwhile marcher and demonstrator Chris (Saul Rubinek) now aspires to nothing more revolutionary than a job as an insurance underwriter.
No Horatio Alger hero ever faced more daunting odds than Mr. Tesich has devised for his would-be yuppie. Blocking his rise to upward mobility are an excitable Slavic restaurateur (Olek Krupa) whom Chris has inadvertently insulted; his former wife (Celia Hart), whose conversation relies heavily on pop-song quotes; and a fellow veteran from the ``movement'' (John Spencer), who spouts '60s slogans and marching songs.
The slightly streamlined cast also includes the restaurateur's long lost, wayward daughter (Kathleen Wilhoite) and a black neighbor (Novella Nelson) who speaks with a Polish accent. The Tesich antic abounds in time-honored farcical devices: mistaken identities, coincidences, sight gags, and nonsense dialogues. As portrayed by Mr. Rubinek, Chris's disarray and desperation contrast amusingly with the determined attitudes of the visitors to the bachelor premises designed by Bill Stabile and lighted by Greg MacPherson. Deborah Shaw created the costumes for a production that makes at least a plausible case for restaging ``Division Street,'' which runs through Sunday.