Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Racy Fun at Willow Theater

A Saucy “Tale of the Allergist’s Wife”

By Skip Sheffield

Oh my, Boca Raton Theater Guild has gotten racy in its mature years.
BRTG is producing Charles Busch’s “The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife” at the Willow Theater. If you know anything about Busch, you know his plays are anything but G-rated.
“Allergist’s Wife” is a solid R for language and subject matter, and that’s fine for broad-minded adults- particularly hip New Yorkers.
The play is set very specifically on the Upper West Side of Manhattan in a posh apartment. Patti Garner is Marjorie, the allergist’s wife of the title. Michael Beecher is Dr. Ira Taub, her doctor-husband of 32 years. Living with the couple is Marjorie’s mother, Frieda (Iris Acker).
As we meet Marjorie she is chatting with the door man, Muhammad (Yusuf Rathmore) and confiding she feels “dissatisfied.”
“Everything today seems so terrifying,” she confesses.
Clearly Marjorie has problems, and they have become manifest in a freak-out at the Disney Store. It is also evident Marjorie longs for some kind of change in her predictable life of shopping, museum and theater-going.
Change arrives in the form of Lee (Barbara Sloan), a childhood friend.
One guesses that Lee, who used to be Lillian Greenblatt, was an ugly ducking that grew into a swan. Lee is forceful and self-confident; maybe a little too forceful.
Much like the man who came to dinner Lee moves in and brings about some marked changes in the lives of Marjorie and Ira. Some make them downright uncomfortable.
Lee is the kind of person who enjoys luring people out of their comfort zone. This is a comedy about self-styled sophisticates, and it’s fun to watch them squirm.
It’s also fun to watch Iris Acker cheerfully play one of the saltiest mothers-in-law you can imagine.
Everyone in the cast is a seasoned professional save Yusuf Rathmore, an FIU chemistry major who is making his stage debut. Rathmore is just fine, and perfectly cast.
Patti Gardner and Barbara Sloan must be friends in real life, because they have that all-important chemistry in their character’s relationship, which makes their rather surprising Act Two plot twist believable.
Michael Beecher has less to work with as his do-gooder doctor, but he pulls off a few surprises of his own.
Above all everyone seems to be enjoying themselves under the direction of Genie Croft, who has directed three previous shows at BRTG.
“Allergist’s Wife” is a far cry from the community theater-level productions done by BRTG in its formative years more than 20 years ago. Like Karen Stephens’ “Bridge & Tunnel,” this is an entertaining professional show, and worthy of your support.
Shows are at 8 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at Sugar Sand Park, 300 S. Military Trail, Boca Raton. Tickets are $18. Call 561-437-3948.

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