The Colony Theater Company just unwrapped an early holiday gift for lovers of sweet romantic comedy — the magic-centric "Bell, Book and Candle." John van Druten's witty play moves quickly and softly, like a black cat sneaking by stealthily in the night.
There's very little substance to the shenanigans, but it succeeds on the level of slight, sweet time killer. The subtle narrative contains no intricate plot twists or visceral subtext, but what ends up onstage is inoffensive and pleasant while it lasts. Most uniquely, "Bell, Book and Candle" has to be one of the few plays appropriate to produce at both Halloween and Christmas.
"Bell, Book and Candle" drops us in the middle of a coven of witches on Christmas Eve, but at first you might mistake these suave occultists for extras from "Mad Men." They dress stylishly and drink booze constantly, and their after-hours behavior immediately recalls some of the crazy antics on that TV show. But these are witches, not advertising executives. The characters do, however, share a penchant for guilt-free hook-ups in the Big Apple on a regular basis.