All Naughty Ain’t Nice
Three One-Act Plays by Woody Allen
First Line: Curtain rises on a gray day in New York.
Maybe it’s just me, but I’m a little put out by all the infidelity in literature. So imagine my delight when, after having just purchased this collection, I decide to actually read the book jacket summary. Lo and behold, these one-acts are heralded as “humorous, insightful, and unusually readable plays about infidelity.”
“Oh goodie!” says me. “I bought exactly what I try to avoid!”
This, my friends, is why we must research our reads. I’ve done the work for you on this one…and, I hate to say it, but this collection is underwhelming.
For one thing, the dialogue takes dozens–yes, dozens–of pages to warm up. The openings drag and the conversations seem to go in circles, killing time for much longer than what’s necessary to “build suspense.” The one-liner jokes also struck me as a little forced for believable conversations.
I suppose “Old Saybrook” is the best of the three acts. The introduction of the “author” character Max half-way through the play offers some interesting comments on the writing process, but even this metatheatrical device feels underdeveloped.
Of course, we’re talking about the stage, here. Maybe if I’d seen live performances of these acts, I wouldn’t have been so bored. The situational humor could have come off stronger, and the plot twists might have head more flair when seen in-person.
Overall, though, the plays feel recycled. We’ve read about infidelity before, and these plots don’t add much to the conversation.
Bottom Line: For the better trip down Infidelity Lane, opt instead for the wicked character development and dramatic action of Woody Allen’s film Match Point.