Longacre Theatre, (11/20/1979 - 12/01/1979)

First Preview: Nov 10, 1979
Opening Date: Nov 20, 1979
Closing Date: Dec 01, 1979
Total Previews: 10
Total Performances: 15

Category: Play, Original, Broadway
Setting: Brooklyn, New York. Early September, the Present.

Opening Night Production Staff

Theatre Owned / Operated by The Shubert Organization (Gerald Schoenfeld: Chairman; Bernard B. Jacobs: President)

Produced by The Shubert Organization (Gerald Schoenfeld: Chairman; Bernard B. Jacobs: President), Eugene V. Wolsk, Emanuel Azenberg and Dasha Epstein

Written by Frank D. Gilroy

Directed by Tom Conti

Scenic Design by William Ritman; Costume Design by Pearl Somner; Lighting Design by Tharon Musser; Hair Design by Patrik D. Moreton

General Manager: Jose Véga; Company Manager: Manny Kladitis

Production Supervisor: Jerry Adler; Stage Manager: Jonathan Weiss

Press Representative: Bill Evans, Howard Atlee, Claudia McAllister and Jim Baldassare; Advertising: J. Walter Thompson Co.; Casting: Liz Woodman Casting; Photographer: Martha Swope

Opening Night Cast

Ed FlandersMatt Quinlan
Susan KellermannFiona Raymond
J. T. WalshDennis Quinlan

Standby: Peter McRobbie (Dennis Quinlan), Vince O'Brien (Matt Quinlan) and Marie Wallace (Fiona Raymond)

Understudies: Jonathan Weiss (Dennis Quinlan)

Awards and Nominations

Theatre World

winner 1980 Award [recipient] 

Susan Kellermann


New York Daily News: "The joke is short, but the telling's long"

Frank D. Gilroy's "Last Licks," a short three-character play that came to the Longacre last evening, is like a barroom joke that got out of hand. I can think of no rational explanation for its presence, unless it is to show that old roosters never quit the barnyard.

This particular rooster, Matt Quinlan, an ill-tempered and seemingly ailing 63-year-old Roman Catholic, hasn't stepped outside his musty old house, situated somewhere in the metropolitan area, for nine months, or ever since the January day his wife of 39 years was placed in the ground. Now, his only son, Dennis, a married man with two children of his own, is about to have his job shifted, forcing a move from Long Island to California, and he must either put his failing dad in a nursing home or get him to behave civilly to this day's final applicant for the post of housekeeper offered two weeks before in a newspaper ad.

Enter the applicant, Fiona Raymond, a tall, fine-looking, sunnily confident and businesslike woman half Matt's age, her hair neatly rolled up and wearing a severely tailored gray suit. Fiona and Dennis discuss preliminary details, she asked pointed questions. With dad back downstairs dapperly attired, Fiona is sent off to the kitchen so the two men can discuss the probabilities. Matt wants none of it. Now the son and woman sit down alone at the dining-room table where she drives a stiff bargain and then asks Dennis to leave her and Matt alone for an hour, promising results.

Exit Dennis. Except that instead of exiting he slams the door and remains inside to eavesdrop just off the dining room. In no time at all, Fiona has unpinned her long, lustrous hair and is in Matt's lap. A former nun, she had been picked up by Matt, a reprobate of long standing, at the Starlight Bar a long while back and the two had been lovers right up to his wife's death, whereupon his sense of guilt had driven him into seclusion. Now Fiona has come to claim him. How had he ever come to win her in the first place? "I am a nun!" she had cried. "I'm the pope," was his reply.

End of joke and really of play, which has been seesawing back and forth between the perils of old age and the shamming of illness, between the old man's expressed wish to enter a nursing home and his obvious ability to fend for himself, between the son's concern and his outbursts over being used as a battleground by his parents while a child, and between Fiona's matter-of-factness in the son's presence and wanton behavior in Matt's.

Never mind that the pairing seems completely implausible in the first place. Events move with such rapidity that little attention is given by the playwright to establishing character, only cartoons.

We can never be entirely sure where the playwright is leading us, unless it's up the garden path, though we can guess. Just as the old man's attitude toward his former flame keeps shifting back and forth, so does the son's behavior. While Dennis has been sufficiently shaken by what he has overheard before leaving the house, he gives no sign of it until near the end when he learns that the two subsequently went upstairs to bed, to mom's and dad's bed.

Ed Flanders, always an entertaining actor, gets what is available from the role of the guilt-ridden old faker Matt. Susan Kellermann, a stunner, is also quite funny. J.T. Walsh, who I was happy to note survived an appearance in an Off Off Broadway atrocity just a couple of weeks ago, handles the role of the son very nicely. And director Tom Conti has run all possible changes on this most unstable and insubstantial of comedies. William Ritman's setting is wonderfully stuffy and detailed.

We read and hear a great deal (especially from Philip Roth) about Jewish guilt, but very little - on the stage, at any rate - about the Roman Catholic variety, which is at the very least its equal. For "Last Licks," Frank D. Gilroy can now offer an Act of Contrition and say two dozen Hail Marys.

New York Daily News

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