That Dorothy Parker
nytheatre.com review by Jo Ann Rosen
August 10, 2008
It’s always a pleasure to hear the quick wit of Dorothy Parker. There’s a lot of it in Carol Lempert’s That Dorothy Parker, Lempert’s one-woman biographical drama of the prolific author and reviewer. The monologue begins when Parker learns of the death of her friend and fellow Round Table cohort Alexander Woollcott. She is asked to give a eulogy, which leads to reminiscing about her life.
There’s a lot to talk about. Parker was an author, a theatre critic, a book reviewer, poet, and screenwriter, and many of the people she interacted with are mentioned along the way. As a famous wit, her one-liners are readily available, and Lempert delivers many of the lines with finesse. Some of the best moments are when Lempert faces the audience and delivers Parker’s verse. It’s a warm connection with the audience that I missed in other parts, such as in the ample use of a telephone where the audience can only feel left out, or in hints at dialogue with friends who are not there to respond.
Still, Lempert makes clear Parker’s affection for Woollcott, her admiration for Hemingway, and her comfort with a bottle. Lempert handles Parker’s drinking habit adeptly and delivers a three-dimensional Dorothy Parker, who is not only witty, but increasingly frantic, depressed, and needy as the day wears on and her onerous writing obligation calls.Janice L. Goldberg directs, moving Lempert around the stage in a comfortable, languid manner. Robin A. Paterson designed lighting and Craig Lenti designed sound.