‘Uncommon Women and Others” began life as a master’s thesis by Wendy Wasserstein at Yale Drama School. It takes place in 1978 in an unspecified restaurant as a group of Mount Holyoke girls meet six years after graduation and then over two acts and two-and-one-half hours, flashes back to various important moments from college days that they feel have helped to define their post-graduate lives.
We are expected to see the impact of these early choices on their lives as they attempt to ply their work in what is still very much a man’s world despite the wave of feminism in the 1970s. It becomes clear that some of the women (and we meet seven of them) are exactly where they hoped to be, while others are still trying to find their way. They all, however, are unified in agreement that it is their relationships with each other that have meant the most and are all in the firm belief that good things will come to all in the future.
This was an early Wasserstein work. Her big success, “The Heidi Chronicles,” lay just ahead. But “Uncommon Women” had a fine off-Broadway production with Glenn Close, Jill Eikenberry, and Swoosie Kurtz in leading roles. In fact, it is such an early play that the producers of this production included a “Glossary of Terms” in the program in case Princeton Theater-goers might not know the references included in some of the dialogue, terms such as Walter Cronkite; the movie “Adam’s Rib,” Dave Clark Five band, 16th century British poet Edmund Spenser epic “The Faerie Queen,” actress Donna Reed, the television comedy show “Car 54, Where are You?” and others.
The PST production focuses heavily on the humor of the play and misses some of the more poignant moments. Director Daniel Krane has a fine cast. You will have your favorites — mine included Maeve Brady as Holly. Her scene in which she makes a call to her doctor back home is a highlight of emotion. Also Kat Giordano — a recent Princeton graduate en route to law school — as Kate, and Allison Spann as the fiery and eccentric Rita. It is she who sums up the evening toward the end when she muses: “When we’re 45, we can be pretty f—ing amazing.”
Jeffrey Van Velsor’s set design is supposed to suggest both college and a restaurant. It involves six pillars bathed in soft colors and is pleasant enough to keep one interested for 150 minutes without suggesting academia or gastronomic efforts. But then, much of Wasserstein’s play is subtle and the insights often difficult to grasp.
Uncommon Women and Others, Princeton Summer Theater, Murray Dodge Theater, Princeton University. Through July 22, Wednesday through Saturdays at 8 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays at 2 p.m. $24.50 to $29.50. 732-997-0205 or www.princetonsummertheater.org