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.