That’s just the problem with the second half of James Lapine’s reworking of Hart’s book. It tells – rather than compellingly dramatizes – the story of how Hart and Kaufman collaborated on Once in a Lifetime (1930). Watching two guys sitting around drafting a play isn’t nearly as riveting as experiencing that play or the evolution of it. And, to me, at least, it didn’t help matters that, several years ago, I saw a lifeless National Theatre production of Once in a Lifetime, starring David Suchet. What should have been sheer madcap felt drowsily close to one nightcap too many.
If the play, in this production, at least, isn’t quite a cure for drama dependency, that may be because it isn’t sufficiently catching to be an antidote to theater madness. It has a cuteness about it that is merely subcutaneous. It doesn’t prick you, or hook you, or infuse you with the passion of which it can only speak in borrowed words.