'Old Friends' review: Post-mortem Horton Foote

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Hallie Foote (Sybil Borden) and Betty Buckley (Gertrude

Hallie Foote (Sybil Borden) and Betty Buckley (Gertrude Hayhurst Sylvester Ratliff) in "The Old Friends" at The Pershing Square Signature Center/Irene Diamond Stage. Photo Credit: Joan Marcus, 2013

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How is it that, even after he died in 2009, Horton Foote keeps surprising us with major new plays? "The Old Friends," which the playwright rewrote and retired often during the '60s-'80s, got one final rewrite by him after a 2009 reading of the play at the Signature Theatre, where Foote was a treasured regular.

Good for everyone. "Old Friends" not only offers more proof of the prolific author's ability to populate small-town Texas with flawed, vibrant characters of endless self-interest and vulnerability, but it is also a gift bearing lots of big juicy roles -- especially for expert actresses.

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Betty Buckley, finally back with a character worthy of her, is wonderful as the rich, monstrous widow, matched greed for grasping greed by Veanne Cox. The great Lois Smith brings sweet gusto to the abused matriarch, while Hallie Foote plays disappointment proudly in director Michael Wilson's impeccable production.

WHAT "The Old Friends"

WHERE Pershing Square Signature Center, 480 W. 42nd St.

INFO $25, $75 Oct. 1-6; 212-244-7529, signaturetheatre.org

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BOTTOM LINE Foote is dead, but this new play thrives.

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