Spring is allergy season. To fix the itch, fill a prescription with great local theater. Laughter is good medicine. The Stagecrafters in Chestnut Hill, for their 523rd full length production, is telling THE TALE OF THE ALLERGIST’S WIFE. Comedy, fine performances, and a great script make this the perfect remedy for spring fever.
Heading the cast is Marilyn Leah as Marjorie. Leah portrays a midlife crisis to perfection. She flops, moans, groans and weeps until she finds a new friend in her old childhood neighbor. Timing is everything in comedy and Leah makes the most of the script. Leah is adept at creating character nuances, as well as outrageous comedic moments. She is a natural on stage.
Mark Grayson as Ira, the allergist, is a perfect calming influence and foil for the shenanigans of the script and his beleaguered wife. The relationship of Grayson and Leah feels genuine, seemingly with a history and future. The two actors are paired well and bring to life the feeling of a loving, long-term relationship. Grayson does not go for the character of the long-suffering husband, but rather the true-blue partner who lovingly sticks with it for better or worse.
As Frieda, the relief-seeking mother of Marjorie, Carol Florence wonderfully portrays the dualities of old age as both tormented and sharp-as-a-tack. Florence is a pro, and never overplays what could easily become an annoying caricature. Using the script and good direction as her guide, she gets laughs every time.
Pierlisa Chiodo Steo portrays Lee, the everything-old-is-new-again childhood friend of Marjorie. Somewhere between extravagant and annoying, Lee spins a Forrest Gump style story for every occasion. Steo stylishly flounces her way through the New York City apartment to make herself inappropriately at home. She story-tells, coerces and seduces her way into Marjorie’s life, and then Ira’s. Steo makes the most of this thought-provoking role.
Set design and costume design both fit the production perfectly. Under the skilled hand of the director Dave Ebersole, this show springs to life. Ebersole makes this talented, capable cast look great. Pacing, reaction times, and believable relationships help tell the story and make the comedy shine through. This production is a tale well told.
THE TALE OF THE ALLERGIST’S WIFE
by Charles Busch
Directed by Dave Ebersole
June 13 – June 29, 2014
8130 Germantown Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19118