Sunday, May 26, 2024

“Fish in the Dark” on Broadway: Larry David 7 Years Older than Actress Playing His Mother


Larry David’s Fish in the Dark opens Thursday night on Broadway. It’s all sold out, so there’s no question it’s a financial hit. A critical hit? We’ll see. There are a lot of laughs, but “Fish in the Dark” plays like three episodes of “Curb Your Enthusiasm” woven into one. It works– the final tapestry is one piece– but its seaworthiness as a piece of drama with a capital D is yet to be decided.

One thing worth noting: Larry’s mother in the play is veteran actress Jane Houdyshell. The producers have tried to make her look older. But in real life Houdyshell is 60. Larry Davis is 67. And unless things have changed since the first preview, Larry looks older than Houdyshell, hands down.

But that’s the craziness of “Fish in the Dark.” Ben Shenkman plays Larry’s brother. That’s a stretch, since Shenkman is 46. He looks more like Larry’s son from the audience. Does it matter? No, since the “Seinfeld” and “Curb” fans are there for Larry. These inconsistencies go by the wayside.

I do hope Rita Wilson is cited in the reviews. At first you think she’s playing “Cheryl” from “Curb.” But she’s quite distinctly herself and very very funny. The big surprise of “Fish” is that Wilson may find herself much in demand for Broadway roles. She’s a natural Neil Simon actress, for instance.

The age thing, by the way, is not new. On soap operas, the actors playing parents and children can be as little as ten years apart. On “I Love Lucy,” Vivian Vance was younger than Lucille Ball. But Lucy and Desi wanted Ethel to look older than Lucy, so they dressed her matronly, and made sure she Vance weighed more.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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