There are two other characters in Waverly, a struggling young painter named Don (Mark Rosenthal), who camps in the gallery’s backroom, and the hotel owner, Alan (David Groh), who tries to evict Gladys from her gallery in order to transform it into a breakfast room for the hotel. Don is pretty much a cartoon, who achieves his life‘s dream, for a moment anyway, when his collected works are presented for sale in Gladys’ gallery, starting at $2,000 each. Not a single customer walks in. But for Don, whose universe is no less cloistered than Gladys‘, just having the New York exhibit is a triumph.
Meanwhile, Daniel pleads with Alan to allow his grandmother to stay one more year in the gallery, as it’s her only link to the outside world. Alan replies that customers have already put down deposits for breakfast and there‘s no way to return those deposits, no way to reach them, no, it can’t be done. As it turns out, the breakfast room never materializes, and it takes three years for Alan to convert the gallery into a restaurant. All of which -- Alan‘s saga and Don’s -- are satellite sketches about the nature of delusion in the brick-and-mortar worlds of both business and art, and its similarity to delusion in Alzheimer‘s. It’s a nice try, but feels like a reach, probably because Don and Alan are made of paper, while Gladys is constructed from flesh and from Lonergan‘s unyielding glare. None of which would have credence without Bruce Kirby’s carefully calibrated staging and the uniformly excellent performances.
THE WAVERLY GALLERY | By KENNETH LONERGAN | At the Pasadena Playhouse, 39 S. El Molino Ave., Pasadena Through August 11