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Review: SOCIAL SECURITY at THE Arctic Playhouse

Review: SOCIAL SECURITY at THE Arctic Playhouse

Andrew Bergman's comedy about family and frivolity

The Arctic Playhouse in West Warwick kicks off its season with Andrew Bergman's hilarious eighties-era comedy, 'Social Security.' Under the skillful direction of Tony Annicone, 'Social Security' is a farcical story about family, old age and physical attraction that reminds the audience it's never too late to start living.

Art dealers Barbara (Joyce Leven) and David (Mark Lima) are an elite Manhattan couple used to the finer things. When we first meet them, a panicked Barbara is preparing for the arrival of her high-strung sister, Trudy (Denise Izzi) and nerdy brother-in-law, Martin (Richard Griffin), from Long Island. David's attempts to calm Barbara are in vain as she considers worst-case-scenario excuses for Trudy's somewhat surprise visit.

It turns out Trudy and Martin's daughter has gotten herself into a bit of a predicament (to elaborate further here would spoil the fun) while away at college, so they're taking a leave-of-absence from their everyday lives to rescue her. While this may seem to be of no immediate concern to Barbara and David, Trudy and Martin wait until shortly before they leave to announce that Sophie (Maureen Noel), Barbara and Trudy's mother, will be staying with them while they're gone.

Not surprisingly, calamity ensues when the unrefined Sophie, who has an unsanitary affinity for hard candy sour balls, disrupts the life of these sophisticated socialites. That said, Sophie proves there is more to her than immobility and insolence when she makes the acquaintance of renowned artist and fellow octogenarian, Maurice Koenig (an earnest, elegant David Mann), whose creative influence has an evident effect on everyone.

The script is chock full of laughs, a few of which are a bit dated, but unfailingly funny from start to finish. As the story unfolds, the splendid cast delivers the dialogue with palpable energy and sarcasm.

Lima and Leven are magnificent as the cosmopolitan couple whose composure is put to the ultimate test. Lima expertly delivers David's deadpan assertions while Leven maintains poise and grace even when Joyce seems about ready to explode. Izzi is delightful and doesn't miss a beat as the whiny, washed-up Trudy, and Griffin's waggish performance as Martin personifies the stuffy everyman accountant from Long Island. As the transformative Sophie, Noel steals every scene with her unruly temperament and unapologetic candor.

This production will bring a smile to your face as you watch these characters learn to adapt to their situations and each other. Although I don't fully understand the significance of the title, 'Social Security' makes for a pleasant evening at the theater.

Social Security by Andrew Bergman, Directed by Tony Annicone. The Arctic Playhouse, 1249 Main Street, West Warwick, RI. October 7 - 16

Photo: Sandy Uttley Smith




From This Author - Christopher Verleger

Chris has been reviewing theater throughout Rhode Island and Southeastern Massachusetts since 2006. He lives and works in Southern Rhode Island.

... (read more about this author)

Review: SOCIAL SECURITY at THE Arctic PlayhouseReview: SOCIAL SECURITY at THE Arctic Playhouse
October 4, 2022

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