The third play of Mr. Graham’s to be produced by People’s Light; it is probably his most lighthearted. Stella is a divorced nurse who has come to a crossroads in her life and is hungry for change. Lou is a widowed barkeep who has never ventured out of his South Philly neighborhood and likes it that way. Donnie is a young friend and bar patron of Lou’s who is conflicted about his impending marriage. Returning from the depressing funeral of a mutual friend, the event has triggered remembrances of Lou’s recently departed wife and doubts in Donnie’s mind about his nuptials. Besides being funny as hell, this play has three characters that we can all care deeply about.
Marcia Saunders is totally endearing as the “won’t take no for an answer” Stella, who knows what she wants and goes after it. We can see the logic and the sensitive strategy she employs against Lou’s many negative arguments. We all root for her as she is rejected time after time by Lou’s recalcitrance. Tom Teti strikes the right note as Lou, a recently widowed bar owner who is holding onto the past for dear life. We know he likes Stella, but not enough; it seems, to attempt to go out of his comfort zone. The naturalistic banter of Saunders and Teti is contrasted nicely by Scott Greer’s slapstick shenanigans as a drunken Donnie. It works, because all of the “shtick” (inserted by Mr. Greer and director Pete Pryor – according to Mr. Graham) comes directly out of Donnie’s character. Therefore, it’s never obtrusive, but rather, explosively funny. That brings us to Mr. Greer, who plays the pathetically sweet Donnie. It is undoubtedly the best work I’ve seen from Mr. Greer because his speech pattern and physical movements are all clearly character driven choices that are uniquely “Donnie”.
If James F. Pyne, Jr. doesn’t receive a Barrymore nomination for his single unit set of Lou’s bar, a nominator probably didn’t come to see the show. It is a perfect rendering of a South Philly neighborhood bar. From the Ron Jaworski (Jaws) Eagles jersey tacked to the wall to the worn red leather bar stools, to the mini bags of chips on a rack. What I really adore about it – is that it is a working set. There is a working microwave, a working air conditioner, a sink (okay so it’s a basin – but it sure looks like a sink) and a keg of beer (maybe Near Beer) that Lou draws drafts from and serves. Kudos to Mr. Pryor for putting this production together and making a 75 minute play with no intermission seem effortlessly brief. And three cheers for Bruce Graham, our prolific playwright who has created this sweet and poignant theater piece for us to enjoy. I can’t think of a better way to enjoy a summer evening than getting to know Stella and Lou.
For tickets call the Box Office at 610-644-3500. For more information or to purchase group tickets call 610-647-1900 x111 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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