A vivid production boosts a middling play in the Falcon Theater’s staging of “I Remember You,” in which an accomplished cast burrow beneath some surface implausibility to display the turbulent emotions within. Bernard Slade’s plot is intriguing and many of his lines witty, but it’s director Walter Painter’s efforts to get beyond the less-than-credible characters that help unveil an amiable and occasionally touching romantic comedy.
Affluent young businesswoman Tracy (Madison Dunaway) is waiting impatiently in a bar for a cab when she meets Austin (Tony Danza), a middle-aged man who plays lounge piano. Tracy reminds Austin of someone, and he uses all of his charm to win her over. He succeeds, and before long, they’re intending to get married. When he goes to meet Tracy’s mother, Prunella (Robin Riker), however, he sees that fate has taken a hand in this romance. Austin and Prunella were lovers 25 years before, and they soon discover that flame hasn’t entirely gone out.
Displaying a smooth singing voice and an easy comic timing that serves the piece well, Danza is effective and well cast as Austin, a romantic torn between conscience and cowardice. Riker delivers an excellent perf as Prunella, fluctuating between a protective maternal vibe and the giddiness of renewed passion. She brings a disturbing coldness to a scene in which mother and daughter fight over whom Austin loves more — a moment that unearths the raw ugliness right beneath the comedic surface of the play. Dunaway does a very fine job with the hardest role, adding real emotion to the show, but she has to fight Slade’s unbelievable characterization most of the way. Richard Gilliland excels in the supporting role of Oliver; his act-two drunk scene is so exquisitely done that it received a round of applause on opening night.
Tom Buderwitz’s double-sided, rotating sets are a model of compact perfection, creating both a detailed bar setting and a comfy apartment, depending which way the set is facing.