Review of 6 Rms Riv Vu at the Theatre Guild of Webster Groves

    When it opened on Broadway in 1972, Bob Randall’s play 6 Rms Riv Vu ran for most of a year, with Jane Alexander, who got a Tony nomination, and Jerry Orbach in the leads, both leading Broadway lights at the time. A couple of years later, the play was performed on CBS with Carol Burnett and Alan Alda, no less, in the leads; both got Emmy nominations.

    Watching the current production at The Theatre Guild of Webster Groves, I could only  ask myself, “Why?” 

    6 Rms Riv Vu has not aged well.

    The title borrows the shorthand of real estate classified ads, promoting a six-room apartment on New York’s Riverside Drive with a view of the Hudson if you lean far enough out a bedroom window. And it is rent-controlled. 

    With such attractions, the empty living room holds several prospective renters as the play begins. One is a pregnant woman pushing a baby carriage, played by Andrea Bush. Another is a young wife and mother looking for more space while her architect husband is away on business, played by Karen Wood. A third is an advertising copywriter checking it out for his wife on his lunch hour, played by Shane Rudolph. 

    The housewife, Anne, and the ad man, Paul, are the last to leave. And when they start to leave, they discover that the building’s super, in a fit of distraction, has pulled the knob off the exit door, an obvious and unconvincing plot device. They are trapped. They pound on the door. They yell out the window. Paul even crawls out the window to attract attention. No luck.

    So they get acquainted, which leads to a certain interest in each other. And to an analysis of their morals formed in the 1940s and ’50s, when one remained a virgin until marriage, and an affair after marriage was out of the question. But now a new generation is pushing in on them, with different ideas. And Ann and Paul are wondering it they are missing something. They both love their spouses, but someone new and different? And they are attracted to each other. Hugh Hefner made a fortune from such questions and longings among that Silent Generation. 

    The questions and longings are perfectly valid, but we’ve been exploring them for half a century and more, and 6 Rms Riv Vu brings little new to the discussion. Randall’s dialogue plays well enough, but it rarely sparkles. How long until we reach a resolution here?

    Shane Rudolph found a way to bring some real depth to the agonies and desires of the faithful-faithless husband. Karen Wood was still searching for that reality in Karen. 

    Kayla Bush had some well-done moments as Paul’s wife, Keaton Treece as Ann’s husband, Luis Aguilar as the  energetic building super, and Stephanie Rhein as the obnoxious neighbor. 

    Debbie Love handled the sound, Barb Mulligan the lighs, Mulligan and Treece and the cast provided the costumes, and Warren Frank put together the set and pulled it all together as the director. 

    I would love to know what someone a couple of generations younger than me would make of 6 Rms Riv Vu.

    —Bob Wilcox

    Photo by Robert Stevens