By William Wolf

MR. & MRS. FITCH  Send This Review to a Friend

John Lithgow and Jennifer Ehle are such appealing actors that they deserve a better vehicle than that provided by Douglas Carter Beane. His play “Mr. & Mrs. Fitch” is as wispy as the fictional character the Fitches conjure up as the basis of the plot. Audience members who find the stars sufficient may derive a measure of pleasure. But one has to be oh-so forgiving of the material they are mining for laughs.

Mr. Fitch is a gossip columnist, aided by Mrs. Fitch, and they thrive on the column that trades on celebrities. At home, when not dashing to fashionable events, they toss what are meant to be witticisms as each other as their private form of amusement and communication. I should think a husband and wife like that would want to strangle each other amid this steady diet of repartee. But that fuels their marriage, apart from the occasional romp in bed, when Mr. Fitch needs a dose of Viagra in order to perform.

Yes, there are good lines here and there, such as Mr. Fitch’s reference to a gay prostitute who caters to right wing Republican politicians as a boy “who is sitting on a gold mine.” But the efforts to be witty grow tiresome after a while. As for the plot, pressure to produce results leads to the Fitches creating an imaginary celebrity, which, as expected, breeds problems. Media recklessness is spoofed when someone else picks up on the gimmick and produces an interview with their non-existent celeb.

The couple resides in a classy apartment designed by Allen Moyer and director Scott Ellis tries to keep the pace flying as if to disguise how little he has with which to work. What it boils down to is Lithgow’s charming manner and accomplished line delivery and Ehle’s good looks and her skill at line delivery. If only they had a comedy worthy of their talents. At the Second Stage Theatre, 305 West 43rd Street. Phone: 212-246-4422.


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