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NEW MILFORD — Are you having one of those days? If you are, get thee to the doctor, or in this case, the doctor’s wife.
TheaterWorks New Milford’s production of Charles Busch’s The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife is a riotous exploration of Marjorie Taub’s middle-aged crisis in which she finds herself grasping for meaning in a morass of intellectual jargon and familial disappointment. It is all about life, love and the expectations we cling to, until we don’t.
This excellent piece of comic theater has been flawlessly directed by Debbie Levin, who has unearthed every iota of humor this piece has to offer. And she has found a lot, all of which is excellently delivered by her terrific cast. The entire play takes place in a dreamy Upper West Side apartment, with a view of the George Washington Bridge, beautifully designed by Richard Pettibone and set by Glenn R. Couture.
Poor Marjorie (M.J. Hartell) ran amok in the Disney store. Recovering at home, she bounces her angst off of the intensely observant, respectful and discreet doorman, Mohammed (Matt Austin).
Moaning, wailing and unable to get out of her pajamas, Marjorie struggles to find her place in the world and some sense of purpose. She is attended by her bleeding heart husband, Dr Ira Taub (Mitch Prywes), a retired allergist who now spends his days servicing the poorest of allergy sufferers in his free clinic, returning home to regale Marjorie with stories of the praise and adulation he receives from his adoring patients and students. It isn’t that he is unconcerned with his wife’s suffering, he is simply more engaged elsewhere.
Down the hall, Marjorie’s aging, vociferous and bowel conscious mother wheels her way into the Taub’s life, mouthing off with nary a filter in place. Everything is fair game where Freida is concerned.
The sturm und drang of Marjorie’s life, Freida’s bowels and Ira’s philanthropy play out hilariously. In waltzes Lee Green, played by Rosemary Howard. She is a globetrotting, name dropping, sexual adventuress who apparently knew Marjorie, back in the day, back in the Bronx. Marjorie is enthralled and giddy, finding her way back among the living, inspired by her new/old friendship.
Everyone else doubts Lee’s sincerity and authenticity. Is she a con artist, a fraud, or perhaps a ghost?
This cast is a dream team of comedy. Matt Austin plays his small role with the most subtle and outrageous expressions. He wastes not a silent second of his time on stage. He is a total hoot.
Jody Bayer’s Freida is the quintessential Jewish mother. She loves and ridicules in the same breath. Ms Bayer is an acting treasure, and she gives this part her all. She is a riot.
M.J. Hartell masters the central role excellently. She exhumes Marjorie’s history as she grieves over its worthlessness. In this process Hartell reveals a superb range of skills. She is a very talented performer.
Apparently this is Mitch Prywes’ debut theater performance. He should keep at it. He is sublime as the doctor, with just the right balance of ego and kindness. He has superb timing as well.
The seductive Lee Green, played by an always fun to watch Rosemary Howard, does a lovely job of playing the lens through which these characters are literally laid bare.
This “fantasmagoria” will leave you feeling there are “nothing but blue skies from now on.”
You will laugh for days, and laughter is the best medicine!
(Performances continue weekends through May 22, with curtain Friday and Saturday evenings at 8 pm, and Sunday matinees at 2 pm.
Please note, TheatreWorks is cautioning parents that Tale of The Allergist’s Wife explores adult themes and language. It is not recommended for children.
Tickets are $23 adults, $18 students and military members, and can be purchased by calling 860-350-6863 or visiting theatreworks.us.
TheatreWorks New Milford’s theater is at 5 Brookside Avenue. Directions and additional information is available online.)