To be frank, it's difficult to care: Jake is such a zero as a characterâ??so boringâ??you can't imagine why any women are attracted to him (or why you'd craft a play around him). Worse yet, the entire piece revolves around largely generic arguments and recriminations, replete with such clichÃ©d charges as “you never listen to me,” “there's a gulf between us as wide as the Grand Canyon,” etc, etc, etc. Any episode of Dr. Phil is as entertaining, and pitched at about the same level of psychological complexity; we discover, for instance, that Simon's ultimate solution to marital crises is to be less guarded and “to be yourself.” Really? Jake's real self seems to be a philandering narcissist; what Jake requires is a total personality makeover, not glib reassurances concerning his intrinsic self-worth.
Jim Mammarella's stripped-down productionâ??a bare stage and no propsâ??only emphasizes the weakness of the script: there are a lot of words in Jake's Women, but little poetry. (Indeed, Simon's ear has never seemed so tin.) Melissa Gonzalez spices things up in the second act as potential wife #3, and there's very good work by Chelsea Dyan Fry as wife #2 to Marc Daratt's Jake. But the play's semi-autobiographical material was mined to far greater effect in Simon's Chapter Twoâ??and it's baffling why the Vexler thought this minor 1992 effort was worth reviving at all. Surely there were stronger contenders for a “straight play” this spring.