Eric Coble’s 90-minute two-character comedy “The Velocity of Autumn,” which has arrived on Broadway as a star vehicle for 86-year-old Oscar winner Estelle Parsons and two-time Tony winner Stephen Spinella, is the sort of well-meaning but static and underwhelming play that would be better suited for a budget-conscious regional theater.
Parsons plays Alexandra, a combative and feisty 79-year-old artist who has filled her Brooklyn brownstone with stuffed bottles intended to serve as Molotov cocktails, while Spinella is her long-estranged gay son Chris, who has been sent for in order to talk some sense into his turbulent mother. Chris enters by climbing a tall tree next to her window.
This outlandish scenario makes way for an extended, downbeat discussion on the difficulties of aging in which Alexandra confides her fear of losing her independence. Since they spend most of the time sitting, the lack of movement adds to the boredom.
Parsons paints a lively but grounded portrait of this quirky, frenzied woman while Spinella, as the far less interesting character, graciously downplays his performance in order to let Parsons take the spotlight. They make a nice pair. Perhaps they can come back to Broadway in a more interesting play.
One can’t but compare it to Terrence McNally’s “Mothers and Sons,” which is playing down the street. That also revolves around a confrontation between an aging mother and a younger gay man. But unlike “The Velocity of Autumn,” it proves to be a provocative drama throughout rather than a simple setup that devolves into sentimentality and nondramatic chat.
If you go:
“The Velocity of Autumn” plays through Aug. 17 at the Booth Theatre. 222 W. 45th St., telecharge.com