There was something magical about the summer of 1976. At least, that’s the argument Broadway’s latest two-hander “Summer, 1976” sets out to make. Before the curtain rises, the production lulls its audience into that distant, commemorative time of Bicentennial fever with a string of feel-good hits from that era. Unfortunately, however, the end of that pre-show playlist is just about where the feel-goods of “Summer, 1976” end. The remaining 90 minutes of David Auburn’s eventless play bargains on feverish nostalgia and a paper-thin portrayal of friendship to emulate the shifts, bends and breaks of relationships between women.
From the moment Diana (Laura Linney) and Alice (Jessica Hecht) enter the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre’s squat stage, we understand that they are an unlikely pair. Diana sports a rigid, all-black outfit while Alice idles in a red and blue bohemian dress. The threads are conventional (costume design by Linda Cho), but the difference in color and flow position each woman on either side of Auburn’s binary scale of womanhood: the fierce versus the flower child.