Despite a bit of overwriting, director Andrew Barnicle finds his way through to the heart of the matter with an outstanding cast, headed by Caroline Kinsolving as a young divorcee and Geoffrey Lower as the novelist who stands in for Simon.
Tom Provenzano – LA Weekly
Courtesy of Andrew Barnicle’s deft direction and his talented actors, Neil Simon’s semi-autobiographical love story captures all the romantic laughs and tender-hearted tears.
Peter A. Balaskas – LASplash
It’s been a while since a Simon play has been seen at the Laguna Playhouse. Perhaps the moratorium should end, at least with his later plays. The place was full, the audience was entertained, and the warmth of the story momentarily banished thoughts of the punishingly cold night outside. And at the beginning of the year, who doesn’t enjoy a story about starting over?
Paul Hodgins – OC Register
In the Laguna Playhouse’s respectable, often-winning staging, director Andrew Barnicle and his cast and production team have taken obvious pains to gloss over as many of these Simonisms as possible while trying to shape the material into something to which we can relate. Through their efforts, the conspicuous artifice of the dialogue is tamped down, allowing the less frequent but more genuinely well-crafted lines to shine through.
Eric Marchese – Backstage
With sterling production values – scenic and costume designs by Bruce Goodrich, lighting by Donald Guy, and sound engineering by Corrinne Carrillo – Chapter Two is a genuine expression of the “feeling of numbness, inertia and confusion” that Simon writes of suffering in the aftermath of the loss of his wife. It is also a testament to the truth that life goes on and time heals all wounds. Though Simon’s second marriage (to actress Marsha Mason) ended in divorce in 1981 after an eight-year stint, Chapter Two lives on as a charming affirmation of love, loss, renewal and survival.
Ben Miles – Showmag
In two acts, Simon airs his own grief and pays tribute to Mason, on whom he based Jennie. Barnicle’s direction set an atmospheric pitch that resonated with an audience, composed largely of older couples, who responded with pin pointed laughter and silences, with some offering a standing ovation at the end.
Daniella Walsh – Laguna Beach Independent
This would be more of a problem were it not for the capabilities of Barnicle’s terrific cast, headed by Geoffrey Lower as the bereft writer and Caroline Kinsolving as the divorced actress who rescues and loves him. Both are pitch-perfect in their interpretations, with Kinsolving hitting both the comic and dramatic high notes with superior voltage.
Tom Titus – Laguna Beach Coastline Pilot
Great writing never goes out of style, and there’s no better master of the comedic than Neil Simon. In Chapter Two, he gives us all that he’s most famous for, and with a bit of something extra.
Steven Stanley – StageSceneLA
606 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach
Tues.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; through Feb. 17, 2013
Tickets: $35-$65; (949) 497- 2787
Running time: 2 hours, 25 minutes
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