All the tensions of a 21st-century romance flow through “A
Twilight Romance,” the current play at The Falcon Theatre in Burbank.
But what makes this love affair unique and endearing is how these two
senior citizens handle the pressures of courting, sex and fidelity.
The poignant story by Mayo Simon, in its world premiere, explores
the relationship of Netty (Katherine Helmond), a widow living alone
and wrestling with deteriorating eyesight, and Gilbert, (Robert
Mandan) an aging playboy with a bad heart, who also lives alone.
Netty has her heart set on finding one man to spend the rest of
her life with. Yet, she doesn’t think that man is Gilbert. On the
nights she’s not with him, she calls him, but he never answers, and
she suspects he is out gallivanting with other women. And then, there
is his mysterious housekeeper who only works at night.
On those few evenings Netty does join him for dinner at his
apartment, Gilbert is more interested in whisking her off to his
bedroom than sharing in good conversation. But Netty’s modesty,
suspicion and stubbornness get the best of her, and they end up
bickering until finally Netty grabs her purse and storms out the
Helmond and Mandan grasp each end of the rope expertly in this
emotional tug-of-war. Helmond’s monologues cut to the core the
feelings of a woman bound by her insecurities in the relationship she
would rather give up than fight to salvage. Mandan relates well
Gilbert’s exasperation with Netty’s irritability and shyness.
Roy Abramsohn gracefully shows the patience of a saint as the
couples’ medical doctor who has no choice in doubling as their
Director Jules Aaron keeps the action at an even pace. Set changes
are made swiftly, as the couples’ apartments and the doctor’s office
revolve on a carousel. Robert Frye’s set designs depict the couples’
comfortable single apartments. Lighting by Brian Gale and taped
Lawrence Welk music by sound technician Robert Arturo Ramirez nicely
complement the production.