Daily News (New York, New York); 18 Jan. 1958; pg. 106.
Author: John Chapman
The rarest and most difficult venture in the theatre is a two-character play. It was difficult, at any rate, up to last evening, when a romantic comedy by William Gibson, Two for the Seesaw, was presented at the Booth Theatre. Gibson has made such a tricky task look as easy as pie. At the Booth, two’s company and the play is an absorbing, affectionate, and funny delight.
The author has had plenty of help, of course. He has had the good fortune to have Henry Fonda and Anne Bancroft in the two roles. We all know about Fonda, for he is an old pro. All we know about Miss Bancroft is that she is new to the Broadway stage and a perfect treasure. Here is a comedienne, reared in TV and a couple of movies, who has the gift of doing precisely the right thing at every moment. Her timing of movement and speech are flawless, and her warmth of personality is more than considerable.
Plenty of Help:
There is further help at hand for author Gibson, who also is new to the theatre. Another old pro, George Jenkins, has devised a pair of one-room Manhattan apartments which are constantly on the move–thanks, no doubt, to a dozen or so of unseen stage hands. Another old pro, also a TV trainee, has directed the comedy with a great eye for pantomime as well as pace. His name is Arthur Penn. The producer, Fred Coe, is making his Broadway bow, but his picture-tube reputation is considerable. Give Coe credit for taking a big risk on a very small play.
The plot is a simple one about a man and a girl, each living alone, who get together through a chance telephone call. No more of the details should be told, for the telling is best done by Miss Bancroft and Fonda. She is a New York-bred Jewish girl, both wise and innocent for her years, and he is a Nebraskan on the lam from an estranged wife. The ending is not the sugary affair one might expect, but it is both intelligent and right.
It’s a long play, too–nine scenes: but when it was over last evening I wondered how and where the time had flown. Two for the Seesaw could have been a hollow artifice, but instead it is an adult and charming work. An adult eastern, indeed.