Episodes of Will and Grace are tailored to fit into a tight half hour slot for a reason. A weak plot based on the misadventures of over-the-top characters is only cute for 30 minutes, after that it becomes nauseating.
Workshop Theater's newest play, Chapter Two, is reminiscent of a Will and Grace-style sit-com, with multiple scene changes and a plot based on the romantic and sexual misadventures of its four characters. The play also runs three hours long, letting the audience asking themselves: "Oh, that was sweet, now when's the commercial break?"
Chapter Two follows George, a recent widower and Jenny, a recent divorcee, both challenged to overcome their past and move on with their lives. Aiding George and Jenny in their quest for new love are George's brother Leo and Jennie's friend Faye. These are the stock quirky characters, present to provide two things: a catalyst for action and some much needed comedic relief.
The talent of playwright Neil Simon (author of 20 some plays including The Odd Couple) ensures, despite the marathon running time, Chapter Two has humorous moments guaranteed to elicit a chuckle or two from even the most cynical of audience members.
"It has a universal appeal," said Brian Doyle, who plays the role of Leo. "It's one of Neil Simon's great traits. It's not offensive. It's a smartly written play."
Dole's performance in the role of Leo, a sarcastic womanizer in the midst of a failing marriage, provides an injection of humor into the otherwise monotonous and seemingly never ending phone conversations between the characters of George and Jenny.
"He's loose and outspoken, he's rough around the edges and unrefined," said Dole of his character.
Dole pulls off "unrefined" exceptionally well and his dry wit and impeccable timing are a welcome respite from the tedious "I love you. No, I love you more" and "You're being cranky. I'm not cranky, you're cranky" style George/Jennie dialogues which seem to engulf the play.
Chapter Two does have its moments of brilliance. But unfortunately, these moments are far outweighed by unnecessary hours of mediocrity. Maybe, the mediocrity was removed to leave an hour or so of good clean sit-com-esque romantic comedy, Chapter Two wouldn't leave the audience wishing for a channel changer.