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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Parent Trap

Theater Review

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Despite its title, Social Security is not just for the older crowd. But it does share some lessons about how a little nurturing can go a long way toward revitalizing the elderly. The comedy, presented at Sunset Playhouse, takes the pulse of an adult family in chaos.

The play is set in the upscale New York apartment of Barbara and David, a middle-aged couple that owns a prosperous art gallery. Barbara's sister Trudy soon disrupts their well-ordered lives. Trudy, at her wit's end about the behavior of their mother, who lives with Trudy and her husband, announces that Barbara must nowtake responsibility for their troublesome mother. To put it mildly, this news does not generate a positive reaction.

Told with tongue-in-cheek flavor, the story follows a predictable course. At the top of the cast is Bonnie Krah as the elderly Jewish mother, Sophie. Her eccentricities are in full evidence, much to Barbara's dismay. Things change dramatically when the couple invites an elderly and distinguished artist-a widower-to their apartment for dinner. As soon as the artist arrives, Sophie is transformed into a fetching and charming lady.

While the script falls short of a Neil Simon comedy, Social Security treads similar terrain. The cast must bring the characters to life, and in this case they do. The play's focal point is Barbara. As played by Susan Dwyer Loveridge, she becomes delightfully delirious as the mother wears her down. Cheering her on is Glenn Villa as David. The sister and her husband, portrayed by Donna Daniels and John Roberts, are wonderfully insufferable. Director Bryce Lord brings out the characters' humanity as well as the intended humor in this cleverly crafted play.

Social Security runs through May 9 at the Sunset Playhouse's Furlan Auditorium in Elm Grove.

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