Although I’ve never been a big fan of Simon’s works, this one, in its somewhat bitter dimensions seems to have more heft than his comic recordings of squabbling couples.
In the first piece, Karen Nash (the always marvelous Maureen Stapleton, who played all 3 women of this work on the Broadway stage) has traveled from her suburban home to the Plaza, planning to meet her husband Sam there to commemorate their 24th anniversary in the very suite in which they celebrated their wedding night. Stapleton, who in the script is supposed to be around 48 or 49 was actually 46 at the time of filming (which is funny given Sam’s comment that when she forgets her age she always rounds it up, not down like other women); yet she looks older and speaks more like she were woman in her late 60s, probably because then, old age was defined as arriving earlier that it currently is in those decades. In any event, she has clearly lost her youth, and carries herself like an older woman, wearing plastic galoshes over her shoes, and walking with a definite death-leaning slump.
Here, as in both the previous plays, a door suddenly clicks into a lock as the young would-be-bride closes herself into the bathroom of the same hotel suite, perhaps the only way to truly escape that claustrophobic suite with its mean history and her parents, equally hysteric (the male in Matthau’s case is the primary example of that word) and money-oriented life. Roy Hubley, after all, is paying for a highly expensive wedding which his daughter is refusing to attend; and his wife Norma (Lee Grant) is about to lose “face” and be treated with further abuse from her husband.