WARNING: In Kate Fodor’s insanely comic new play Rx (which deals in equal amounts with love, lunacy and loneliness with some sharp, sarcastic barbs aimed at today’s pharmaceutical research companies) side effects may include a ticklish feeling in your funny bones, a dryness of the throat from laughing and an unusual empathy for those crazy human beings she has created in this really odd romantic comedy which is now running through March 3rd at Primary Stages 59E59 Theatres. Go!
In a series of quick and extremely funny scenes this satisfying new comedy sets the bar high for any other so called comedies to surpass. This is about the best show I’ve seen this season by far. Unexpected laughs and strange characters abound with a set design by Lee Savage supplying its own original surprises.
A nervous and confused Meena Pierotti (a droll Marin Hinkle) is the Managing Editor of Piggeries, American Cattle & Swine Magazine). She is unhappy with her job running off to cry at the nearby BonTon ladies underwear department when necessary. She is also a poet. Writing prose poetry. A volume of which has been published focusing on feet.
A wonderfully low key and charming Stephen Kunken as Dr. Phil Gray, (the primary color of the sterile, institutional set) is a Schmidt Pharma researcher working on a project to see if their new drug will help relieve “workplace depression”. Meena is being interviewed to see if she is the right choice for the clinical study. Will she get the real thing or the placebo? Will she get better? Will she fall in love with her doctor?
Allison, Phil’s boss (a bulldozing Elizabeth Rich) dressed to the hilt by Andrea Lauer in many stylish outfits with shoes to match loves her job. Loves developing drugs for those that can afford to pay for them. She boarders on over-the-top barely keeping her equilibrium and keeping the audiences in stitches throughout.
Simon (an understated Michael Bakkensen) is Meena’s boss and causes a dilemma with her affections when the drug seems to take effect.
Paul Niebanck plays Richard, a marketing executive. His spiel for the marketing of the drug is terrific. He also portrays an Einsteinish Ed, a Schmidt Pharma researcher with a drawer full of pills which he can’t quite remember clearly what they are for.
As Frances, a widow in need of new underwear, MaryLouise Burke is adorable, playful and touching as the play veers off course just a bit. But it works. No more information otherwise I’ll spoil the fun.
It is precisely directed by Ethan McSweeny who makes every second count. Who makes every laugh hit its mark. Who makes the action flow seamlessly with the magic of a witty set design and proper lighting (Matthew Richards) and entertaining original music by Lindsay Jones makes Rx the perfect tonic to lift the spirits. Yes, laughter is the best medicine. Even the logo for the show holds a visual surprise when seen upside down.
www.primarystages.org Photo: James Leyne
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