BWW Reviews: Theatre Suburbia's GOING BARE Tickles the Funny Bone
At the center of the farcical comedy is a faked but legal divorce to save Jack Ramsay, M.D. and his wife Barbara Ramsay from financial ruin. Jack Ramsay is an OB/GYN, and he is only three years out of his surgical residency. As a burgeoning, young professional, he felt he couldn't afford the annual $65,000 premium for malpractice insurance and decided to "go bare." Of course, a patient who got pregnant after he tied her tubes promptly sues him. She is claiming malpractice, pain, and anguish, which she plans to get 4.2 million dollars for. Barbara jokingly suggests that they get divorced so he could be too poor to sue, and Jack Ramsay, against the advice of his lawyer and best friend Elliot Struass, runs with it. While the script and plot are passably good, some characters are underdeveloped.
While humorous (or is it humerus), one problem this production faces is its direction by Judy Reeves. Adriana Fajkus is making her stage debut as Barbara Ramsay, and she could have benefitted from more intensive coaching by the director. Throughout the performance, Adriana Fajkus remains rather flat. Her lines are memorized and she delivers them, but her timing and inflection could use work. On the other hand, Judy Reeves is successful at keeping the production moving along at a brisk pace, making it reminiscent of a 90s sitcom. Likewise, she has coached her male characters to deftly earn hearty belly laughs from the audience.
Chris Eldredge's cynical and borderline alcoholic Elliot Struass earned most of the evenings' laughter. The character is a bitter divorcee, and tries to keep Jack and Barbara from going through with their harebrained scheme. When he realizes he can't, he joins them. Chris Eldredge delivers many of his lines with a sensibly sharp bite that is greeted with guffaws. His character gets the best material in the script and instantly becomes the audience's favorite.As Jack and Barbara Ramsay, Phillip Murrell and Adriana Fajkus work hard to breathe life into their characters. Unfortunately, the writing gives the actors about as much opportunity to bring these wooden figures to life as someone bent over a Resusci Anne has. Phillip Murrell takes this in stride and creates almost a cartoon of a man doing everything he can to preserve his own life. Adriana Fajkus follows suit as much as she can, but her portrayal lacks the over-the-top emotionality that one would expect, especially with the play's contrived plot twist for a resolution. Moreover, neither actor fully convinces the audience that these two people love one another. Their chemistry is awkwardly off.
Every farce needs confused people to add to the light humor, and that is where realtor and neighbor Claire Hoffman, played by Lisa Britton, and security guard Tom O'Hearn, played by Michael Neil, step in. Both of these characters take the divorce at face value, complicating the situation for the central characters. Lisa Britton's Claire is quick to attempt to seduce Jack, and her advances are so gauche that the audience can't help but laugh at them. Likewise, Michael Neil Rose adroitly bumbles and fumbles as his character gets completely befuddled by the goings-on in the Ramsay household.
Another problem this production of GOING BARE faces is a disjoint on the technical level. The program states that the setting is "The Present," but dialogue, set design, costuming, and props indicate otherwise. However, these elements also didn't agree with each other. Early in the play, Tom O'Hearn states he doesn't have a cell phone, but is thinking of getting one. In "The Present," everyone has a cell phone, so this line places the show in the recent past, possibly the late 90s or the early 2000s. The cell phone prop is a flip phone. Flip phones were at the height of their popularity from about 2002 to about 2009 (before the smart phone took over the market). The Ramsay's couch, throw pillows, and home décor are reminiscent of the 80s. Likewise, the clothing that Adriana Fajkus wears as couture are decidedly 80s fashion pieces and not modern. In the long run, these elements offer a confounding mix of eras and times that simply don't add up.