There is something unequivocally old fashioned about Israel Horovitz’s Out of the Mouths of Babes, and there is nothing entirely wrong with that. The comedy plays out like the kind of farces that once upon a time were such huge hits on Broadway, that Hollywood would have no choice but to turn them into films starring renowned British actors. The setting is a charming apartment in Paris, where four women come together through a not so accidental twist. It turns out, at one point they were all married or in a romantic relationship, with a Sorbonne professor who has just passed away at age 100. His century-long stay on Earth means he romanced women from all ages, and the four women we meet range from 88-year old Evelyn (Estelle Parsons) to 30-something Marie-Belle (Francesca Choy-Kee) who not only was his last conquest, but also witness to his exceptional sexual prowess at a late age.
If the play often seems like an unlikely celebration of masculinity and the desire to “spread the seed” so to speak (although it seems the unnamed man made sure not to leave any offspring behind), its shortcomings are elevated by the work of the four actresses onstage. Parsons, who shares her character’s age, is living proof that an actress is as strong as the parts she is given. Her Evelyn has turned the acerbic into a lifestyle, and while Ms. Parsons’ line delivery and comedic timing are spot on, one can’t help but wish she’d let us in more often into Evelyn’s sensitive side. Perhaps she doesn’t have one and even that is testament to Ms. Parson’s unique kind of work.
Judith Ivey shines as Evvie (the dead man had a thing for women who shared many qualities, like names and birthplaces, romantic or psychotic?) and Angelica Fiordellisi does as best she can with the oft grating Janice, whose solution to everything is trying to jump out the window (in a very cringe worthy move, suicide is one of the play’s biggest subject for laughs). Directed with flair by Barnet Kellman, Out of the Mouths of Babes gets away with a lot, because it feels so lighthearted and “fun” that it manages to cover its terrible gender politics with roaring laughter. Perhaps by highlighting the wonders done by the women onstage, the play is indeed giving them, and not the the last laugh.