It’s a fair question whether we go to the theater to confront realities as unpleasant and insoluble as the one presented in Harry Townsend’s  Last Stand (Stage II at City Center through February 9). Aware of this, the playwright George Eastman douses his subject—age-related decline—with a jolly array of cute one-liners. It’s like putting a bow on a bottle of castor oil.

Harry (Len Cariou), a widower living alone in Vermont, is eighty-four and losing his faculties. Normally his daughter checks up on him daily, but she has gone down to New York for the weekend, so while she’s away Harry’s only other child, Alan (Craig Bierko), a middle-aged divorcé who sells real estate in San Diego, has agreed to step in. Harry thinks Alan’s visit is...


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