Nancy Sasso Janis
- OnStage Connecticut Critic
NEW MILFORD CT - TheatreWorks New Milford opened their production of ‘The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife’ by Charles Busch on Friday evening with their usual opening night gala. There was champagne and German cuisine (because Germany was referenced in the script) as the almost full house mingled with the cast and production staff after the performance.
To say that this New York doctor’s wife is having a mid-life crisis is an understatement. TheatreWork’s first time director Debbie Levin can relate to the title character’s adventure in self-exploration and invites audiences to “contemplate your dreams vs. your life, and have a laugh when you understand that your life has been well-lived...regardless of whether it was lived as planned or took shape as it ought to be.” I am not sure that the play quite answers that big question and, for me, there were big spaces between the laughs. Be forewarned that there is some foul language that fit in well to the piece and some adult situations that really did not. It is definitely not appropriate for children and probably not something they would enjoy.
Producer Richard Pettibone also served as the designer of an early 2000 Manhattan apartment set that could have been slightly more upscale. To my mind, costumes designed by Kitty Ridenour needed to be a bit more fashionable to fit the background of the uptown characters. I liked the dimming of the lighting designed by Tom Libonate to signal the end of a scene that was often followed by long set changes in the dark.
The cast members gave it their all to bring out the best of this play that definitely had some funny moments. M.J. Hartwell, by day a middle school English teacher, carried the action nicely as Marjorie, the wife in crisis. She did well with both the angst and the comedy and gave the arc of her character a nice substance. Mitchell Prywes, M.D. made his TheatreWorks debut to play the role of Dr. Ira Taub, adding a layer of authenticity to the role. Equity member Rosemary Howard also made her debut at this venue to play the fabulous Lee Green, the house guest who makes quite the splash in the Taub apartment.
Jody Bayer of Danbury returned to TheatreWorks to play Marjorie’s Jewish mother and her performance was priceless. Perfectly cast as Frieda, Ms. Bayer had some of the funniest lines. WCSU graduate Matt Austin made the most of the small role of Mohammed the doorman and I enjoyed watching his reactions to the antics of this family as he ate his way through his too-brief appearances.
The opening night audience laughed more than I did and seemed to enjoy even the most far-fetched twists, making me wonder if I was missing something. The off-stage meltdown at the Disney Store that resulted in broken character figurines was a funny touch, but the quips about Frieda’s digestive system and the intellectual references just felt forced to me. I agree with other reviewers that the ending could have been stronger but I did enjoy many of the interactions of the husband and wife.
‘The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife’ continues at TheatreWorks New Milford on May 7, 13, 14, 15, 20, 21, 22 with a curtain time of 8:00pm Fridays and Saturdays and 2:00pm on Sunday matinees. Tickets are $23 for reserved seating with discounts for students and military personnel.