John Mahoney re-creates his Tony-winning role as Artie Shaughnessy, frustrated songwriter and full-time zoo keeper. Swoosie Kurtz, another Tony winner, is his schizophrenic wife, [Kurtz'] Bananas. Christine Baranski is Bunny Flingus, Artie's buxom blond girlfriend, who encourages Artie's delusions of becoming a famous songwriter.
[John] Guare's play is set on Oct. 4, 1965, at Artie's apartment in Queens. The pope is visiting New York to deliver a speech to the United Nations about the war in Vietnam, and the city is abuzz. Artie's apartment soon is full of people who want to see the pope, touch him, receive his blessing - and one who wants to assassinate him. The visitors include a deaf actress, three beer-swigging nuns and an AWOL soldier.
Most of Guare's play focuses on the desperate Artie, played to a frenetic turn by Mahoney. (You might remember him as Richard Dreyfuss' sales partner in the movie Tin Men.) Artie is a professional schlemiel, a no-talent pianist and songwriter who is reduced to failing on amateur nights. Artie's skill as a musician is only slightly better than his dippy songs, such as ``Back Together A-gain`` and a schmaltzy ballad sung to the tune of ``Silent Night.``