6 RMS RIV VU the Summer romantic comedy now playing at the Sierra Madre Playhouse, was a straight shooter and that was the best part of opening night.
Several couples vying for a six room rent control apartment on Riverside Drive, Manhattan’s Upper West Side, race to get a piece of the apple and a view of the Hudson, only to discover that it’s a drek, maintained by a notoriously shady building manager and mostly in need of an overhaul. But that isn’t stopping anyone. At $350 per month it’s still a steal and the heat is on for the lease.
When two of the candidates, Anne Miller, a (rather gorgeous) mom and homemaker and Paul Friedman, an advertising executive, collide one afternoon while measuring out the square footage they begin a sort of light version, Last Tango in Paris–like affair and it gets interesting in so many more ways than just sex.
It’s the 70s and both of these two are settled in not the most exciting of marriages. Although they love their spouses and are completely committed to their families, they both, especially Paul, feel a bit like the “lost” generation passed on by. Both are still very young and living within the new-found freedom of the time without the actual unrestrained ability to enjoy it. Paul fantasizes about writing his own projects and having sex with other women. Anne wouldn’t mind a day to herself, some adventure and a lot more attention from her architect husband. Essentially they are both bored, desperately in need of at least a temporary rescue. So it’s no surprise that when the doorknob to the apartment goes missing and they become trapped for several hours alone, an attraction begins to flare up that seemingly could be consummated without consequence but for their own guilt.
6 RMS RIV VU, written by Bob Randall, originally premiered in New York City in 1972 at the Helen Hayes Theatre then on to the Lunt Fontaine and finally made it to television in 1974 with several star-studded casts also garnering an Emmy nomination. It is a wholly New York City story including the behaviors, attitudes, vocabulary and dialogs that would have been typically heard during those times, very specifically in that city. Although, if you’ve ever lived in the Big Apple, the rent control saga has been and still is the melodramatic center stage even today, as there are hardly any of them left.
The point is, the language has not been updated at all and although normally not always particularly noteworthy where older scripts are often concerned, it does comes into play with this production. It could be considered a sort of classic with a contemporary line and flow but for the occasions where the verbal references are jarring. And there are a few. If you’ve not lived through preceding generations, and have never had the truly unique experience of apartment hunting prior to the 90’s, in New York City, there are words and circumstances that have the potential to take you out of the moment. Although 6 RMS is a genuinely delightful and relationship relatable stage play, the innuendos will make this production a tiny bit harder for younger audiences to co-mesh with.
References aside, 6 RMS RIV VU is an overall crowd pleaser with a very easy to follow linear line that is entertaining, sweet and at times very comical, people just being as they are — silly, pushy, hopeful, adventurous, flirtatious, competitive and more. There is a very human outcome not necessarily nice or naughty, but you’ll want to go for the ride just the same. Excellent costuming by Naila Aladdin Sanders.
Hits the mark
The cast (in alphabetical order): Lena Bouton, albert Garnica, Jeremy Guskin, Jil Maglione, Craig McEldowney, Bob Rodriguez, Lynndi Scott and Kristin Towers-Rowles
Written by Bob Randall. Directed by Sherrie Lofton. Produced by Anisa Hamdan and Christian Lebano for Sierra Madre Playhouse. Produced by special arrangement with Samuel French, Inc.
Photo (above) by Gina Long: Lena Bouton & Jeremy Guskin