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Jewel Box commits to comedy with 'The Three Wives of Harry Simpson'



"The Three Wives of Harry Simpson" is a delightful battle-of-the-sexes comedy telling the story of a hardworking and hard-playing ad man. After decades of success, Harry has decided to retire and start a small French bistro, much to the chagrin of his current and former wives who devise a plan to sue Harry to keep him in his job, and maintain lifestyles to which they are accustomed.

The performances overall are quite commendable. As Harry, Al Sochor is surprisingly likable, given the character's shortsighted and at times downright misogynistic demeanor. Susan James is appropriately icy and business-minded as ex-wife Bernice, while Crystal Ecker is convincingly beautiful, even when her accent wavers, as Harry's current French ex-model, Corinne.

There should have been a little more animosity, or at the very least, demonstrated mistrust, among the wives when they first meet, to better contrast and pay off their relationships that develop later. Occasional gaffes did little to inhibit enjoyment of the play, authored by Morna Murphy Martell and directed by Doobie Potter.

The two standout performances are Chris Harris as Harry's first wife, Adele, and Randall Hunter as Harry's lawyer, Gerald Kane. Harris brings great warmth and sincerity to the role, along with a great execution of the broad comedic moments. As Kane, Hunter is smooth and masterful, really owning every line of dialogue and generally making everyone in his scene look better by virtue of his offers as an actor. The play is delightfully hard on lawyers, with Hunter taking the brunt of many a scathing joke about the profession.

Also worth mentioning is Ramon, the security guard for Harry's building, played the night I attended with much charm and just the right amount of hamminess by Gil Lopez. (The role is shared with Scott Doyle.) While a little superfluous to the main story, Ramon always brings a welcome injection of absurd humor throughout the play, although some of his offstage lines were unfortunately garbled through a muffled sound system "? one of the only technical glitches of the show. 

The sets are exceptional, and along with the staging, take full advantage of the in-the-round theater, striking a great balance of what is onstage and what is suggested. As a result, the space feels less like a theater and more like Harry's apartment just happens to have seating for a studio audience, invoking an interesting sitcom-feel which works well. The costumes are fun and accurately reflect and comment on the nature of each character.

"The Three Wives of Harry Simpson" has witty dialogue and broad appealing humor, with some commendable and touching commentary on the state of marriage as an institution and the contradictory nature of love. "?Eric Webb


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