It turned out the real drama was Sardi’s.
The table straight ahead was a nuclear family, mum, dad and daughter about 14. Dad was flying dark. He was present. Check. He was enjoying himself. Check. But he wasn’t there. This occasion belonged to his wife, you could tell he understood that, and his job was to turn up to turn in a cameo appearance. His wife was a lovely person, you could just tell that immediately. Intelligent, unassuming, gracious. She was gazing fondly at the celebrity pictures on the wall, recalling perhaps shows she had seen, connecting with face she recognized. The teenager was one part of "I know how much this means to my Mom so let’s have a little fun with it" and two parts "Broadway? Negro, please. When do we get out of here?"
The table to the left was another nuclear family, this time with two kids. Here too Dad was present but barely accounted for. He actually seemed to me a little nervous, as if he were perhaps a rental soon to be discovered as such. Bad acting, no question there. No caricature for you, buddy. Here too the occasion was about mom, but her pleasure was not a private solace so much as it was the dear knowledge that she had brought her family into the ambit of one of the things "a family should have done" and now this too could be checked off the list. The kids in this case, a boy of about 14 and a girl of 10 were, from what I could see of them, more engaged, and smarter and livelier about it. Mom hung on their every word and feeling. Who wouldn’t be engaged with an audience like this? Generosity begets generosity.
The table to the right was a husband and a wife and two kids. Dad was way present, paying attention, directing conversation, very like the master of the proceedings. His wife was handsome but hard to read, as if banked. It took a moment to guess what was going on here, and that is of course all I am doing here is guessing, but I think she was a trophy wife, and the kids were trophy kids. Dad was wearing everyone on his sleeve.
Catch this three act play every night at Sardi’s. Every seat’s a good one.
Image taken at Sardi’s well after all the actors had left the stage.