Oscar E Moore

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Side Effects starring Joely Richardson at the Lortel

June 27th, 2011 by Oscar E Moore

She’s lovely.  Looney but lovely.  Sarcastic and intelligent.  A bi-polar part played to perfection by Joely Richardson.  Daughter of Vanessa Redgrave and Tony Richardson.   Sister of Natasha.  Niece of Lynn.

It’s a joy just to watch her as Melinda Metz opposite a remarkable and uncanny look alike for George W. Bush, Cotter Smith as her sleaze ball wannabe in politics manipulative and controlling husband Hugh.

It’s hard to believe that they have been married for fourteen years and that it’s taken Melinda this long to discover that Hugh is no longer fun to be with.  That she needs to be with the man she left behind in New York, Adam or at least call him on her cell phone when Hugh leaves the room, sneaking furtive glances in case he should overhear.

Hugh comes from a good family.  He gave up a lucrative job in New York to return to the home bicycle business in the Midwest when his dad died and now the factory is in trouble.  His wife is in trouble.  Not taking her pills.  Drinking heavily.  Not listening to him anymore.  Wanting out.  Not wanting to help him campaign for City Council and then State Assemblyman which Hugh expects her to do – giving up her own writing career for him.  Tit for tat, so to speak in “Side Effects” by Michael Weller at the Lucille Lortel Theatre through July 3rd which is also in trouble.

In five rapidly unfolding scenes that span two years in the unhappy and belligerent marriage of Melinda and Hugh we get the back story and more.  But we never see the two kids, nor Adam, nor the mistress of Hugh (Melinda’s newly hired assistant) who is pregnant and has some VIP connections in Washington D.C.

But wait, after Hugh and Melinda divorce he wants to come back and have sex with her in the mornings and is willing to pay her in this last amusing scene of a pretty ridiculous plot that deals with these two rather unlikable characters.

Despite having to play the obnoxious Hugh opposite the luminous Ms. Richardson Cotter Smith holds his own and it is the fine acting of both individuals that might tempt you to see the ho-hum, ineffectual  “Side Effects” which is directed by David Auburn.

She’s a free spirit and he’s straight laced.  She’s spontaneous.  He has everything pre-planned.  Except for the melodramatic plot twists dreamed up by Mr. Weller.

www.mcctheater.org Photo:  Joan Marcus

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