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A Revival of ‘Three Postcards’ Inaugurates Circle Rep’s New Home

December 6, 1994

NEW YORK (AP) _ The Circle Repertory Company, one of off-Broadway’s more enduring institutions, has made the right move with the wrong show.

Having outgrown its tiny space near Sheridan Square in Greenwich Village, the theater has traveled a few blocks away to more spacious quarters at Circle in the Square downtown.

Its newly renovated home is just about perfect; its revival and revision of ″Three Postcards″ is considerably less so. ″Three Postcards″ by Craig Lucas and Craig Carnelia is a peculiar enterprise, anyway. Not quite a play and not quite a musical, the effort ends up not satisfying the demands of either.

The show, originally staged at Playwrights Horizons in 1987, aspires to be a chamber piece, a miniature musical about three friends, women somewhere in their 30s, who meet for lunch at a tony New York restaurant.

Playwright Lucas wrote one of Circle Rep’s biggest hits, ″Prelude to a Kiss,″ a wise, witty and warm tale of true love. He is on shakier and chillier ground here, dealing with three self-absorbed people whose problems seem more irritating than interesting. Even their names - Big Jane, Little Jane and K.C. - sound precocious and pretentious.

Carnelia, the evening’s composer and lyricist, writes thoughtful, sophisticated lyrics and strong melodies, but only one of the songs in ″Three Postcards″ makes much of an impression.

Called ″The Picture in the Hall,″ it is a recollection by one of the women of her mother’s early married days. This heartfelt memory song has managed to find a life on the cabaret stage. The others slip away as soon as they are sung.

What little humor there is in ″Three Postcards″ comes from Lucas’ sharp observations about Manhattan restaurant etiquette, specifically the intricacies of ordering a meal and a harassed waiter’s attempts to maintain his civility in the presence of indecisive and demanding patrons.

The three actresses - Johanna Day, Amy Kowallis and Amanda Naughton - are competent, but eventually are dragged down by the material. David Pittu, the overworked waiter, suffers the same fate.

Director Tee Scatuorchio doesn’t deal with the static nature of the piece, which centers on that stationary table in the restaurant.

″Three Postcards″ just sits there, making it feel like the longest lunchtime conversation ever.

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