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By Marjorie Gunner

Especially because familiarity breeds contempt, a wife is pushing her luck when she insists on reading her husband’s private diary before she dies. Spouses’ secrets is the focus of “Fiction” at the Laura Pels theatre on 46th Street, the old home of The American Place. Steven Dietz’s two act isn’t set as well as the modernistic, surreal imitation of a terminal at T.W.A. airport in grey, white and black fort the reworked, “ After The Fall, “Arthur Miller’s guilt ridden memory play of a life that included Marilyn Monroe, his second wife. Peter Krause plays the subdued Quentin (Miller), a narrator who pops into scenes pompously telling us about his feelings of guilt, at the same time being the superior hero Miller considers himself, a distinct impression one gets after having previously spoken to him and his late wife Inge for three minutes . . . .More, anon.

Fiction” displays two writers at the time of their meeting and during their twenty year marriage, hopping around the time line. Their seeming contented coupling is interrupted upon learning she will die in three weeks due to a brain tumor.

Linda (superb Julia White of “Twenty-one dinners”) corrects her husband Michael, well played by Tom Irwin. She will enter the sunset smiling, except she makes the fatal mistake of requesting a read of the writer’s daily account of his life during which, in his own words, he had an affair with a writer’s summer camp guest, pretty, petite blonde Abby (Emily Berge). The twist of the plot Dietz cherishes is that his hero never avows Abby was fictional, so Linda’s farewell is lonely. A better twist might have been if Michael admitted the fabrication and Abby was waiting for him in the hospital corridor. Whatever, Hollywood would make its script changes.


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