BWW Reviews: West End Player's Guild's Amusing Production of RX
There's always a risk involved in becoming a test subject for a new drug. It's a necessary process for the pharmaceutical companies since it reveals the benefits and detriments of their latest discovery. But, the people who undertake these studies are often desperate for something that will help them, and there's a definite drive to see them succeed. But, at what costs? That's one of the questions playwright Kate Fodor explores in Rx, a kind of romantic comedy that also touches on a serious subject matter. Though it remains a bit uneven in tone, it's likable and engaging as well. The current production by the West End Players Guild is certainly worth checking out, and provides plenty of food for thought.
Meena Pierotti is a writer trapped in an editing job for a cattle magazine who longs for change in her life. She periodically escapes to the underwear department at Macy's to cry out her problems, but decides to participate in a new drug study (SP925) that is supposed to alleviate work-related depression issues. Over the course of time Meena and her doctor, Phil Gray, become cozy, which seems to lift both their spirits. But, Meena is soon feeling overly focused on her job, pouring all her energies and desires into articles on pork, while letting her boss have a "quickie" on her desk. Just when Meena seems to be responding to the drug, she begins losing interest in Dr. Gray. Complications quickly ensue.
Laura Singleton does nice work as Meena, imbuing the young editor with an initial sense of helplessness that allows us to see the depth of her depression. Singleton also displays good comic timing, especially with her co-star, Jeff Kargus (Phil Gray). Their interaction is both unnerving and amusing at times, but it's very well played in either case. Kargus is pragmatically earnest and honest in his delivery, and that allows for an unexpected wealth of laughs. Suzanne Greenwald also picks up her fair share as an elderly lady who invades Meena's sanctuary in the underwear department, where they quickly become friends. Matt Hanify is properly slimy as Meena's boss, Simon, and Beth Davis is wildly over the top as the pharmaceutical representative who oversees the study. John Lampe is slick and efficient as Richard, the head of marketing, but he's absurdly comical as a Einstein worshiping research scientist named Ed.
Renee Sevier-Monsey's direction is well done, maximizing the comic potential of the script while also paying attention to the romance. Some of the performances are uneven, but it actually acts to draw the focus of our attention on Meena and Phil, so they may be partly by design. The set design by Ethan Dudenhoeffer is suitable and makes good use of the space available.
I think the West End Player's Guild's production of Rx is worth your time and attention, and it continues in the theatre at the Union Avenue Church through April 13, 2014.