Regional Reviews: San Diego
Also see Bill's review of Healing Wars
The play is Full Gallop, and the Globe produced the world premiere in 1995. It is a one-woman show about fashion editor Diana Vreeland, who, after an unexpected dismissal from Vogue, found a need to reinvent herself.
The drama is set in Ms. Vreeland's New York apartment, wildly done in all shades of red (a full-throated design by San Diego's Sean Fanning), to which she has returned in August 1971 after a lick-your-wounds tour of Europe. Anxious to announce her return and re-activate her networks, Vreeland decides to throw a small dinner party for close friends. She decorates the apartment with bouquet after bouquet, and she spends a lot of time on the phone schmoozing. In between, she narrates her achievements at Vogue, her firing, and the highlights of her recently concluded trip.
Full Gallop presents Ms. Vreeland as hitting bottom. Her friends are making excuses to avoid the thrown-together dinner, establishments are leery of putting the things she charges "on her tab," and she's pooh-pooing the suggestion that she take a position as head of the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (Vreeland eventually became a special consultant to the Institute where she masterminded exhibitions that fully established contemporary fashion design as art).
Even at bottom, though, the society diva reigns, and Ms. Ruehl is well up to the task. She flits about the in-the-round White theatre space, sometimes flirting with the audience, many times cajoling her contacts on the phone or plotting to do so. But, always, she remains regalthe height of New York royalty.
Of course, as Elaine Stritch sang many, many times, does anyone still wear a hat? Vreeland was from the hat era of New York, and that era is long gone. One can delight in diva-dom and still not care a whit about who Diana Vreeland was or why her plight is important or even interesting. But one will, nevertheless, still enjoy what Mercedes Ruehl has to offer.
Performances have been extended through November 1, 2015, at the Sheryl and Harvey White Theatre on the Old Globe campus in San Diego's Balboa Park. Tickets are available by calling (619) 23-GLOBE [234-5623] or by visiting www.theoldglobe.org. Performance times are Sunday, Tuesday and Wednesday at 7pm, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at 8pm, and Saturday and Sunday at 2pm.
Full Gallop, by Mark Hampton and Mary Louise Wilson. Directed by Andrew Russell, with Sean Fanning (Scenic Design), Mark Mitchell (Costume Design), Robert J. Aguilar (Lighting Design), Matt Starritt (Sound Design), Brian Meister (Assistant Director), and Annette Yé (Production Stage Manager).