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A Red Plaid Shirt
a Comedy
by Michael G. Wilmot

COMPANY : Stage Door Players [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Stage Door Players [WEBSITE]
ID# 5365

SHOWING : September 21, 2018 - October 14, 2018



Two old friends fill the void left by retirement in different ways; Marty decides he wants to explore the open road on a Harley while Fred decides to pay more attention to his health, inventing many new ailments along the way. With a little "subtle redirection" from their wives and a creative solution to a very unusual problem they find the right track... eventually.

Director Robert Egizio
Fred Baxter Steven L. Hudson
Gladys Baxter Eileen Koteles
Deb Suzanne Roush
Marty Michael Strauss
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Post-Retirement Blues in Red Plaid
by playgoer
Monday, October 8, 2018
Marty (Michael Strauss) has been retired for six months and feels at loose ends, with no real purpose in life. He decides he wants to buy a motorcycle. His more practical wife, Deb (Suzanne Jordan Roush), convinces him to take woodworking lessons instead. He enlists his hypochondriac retired friend Fred (Steve Hudson) to join the class too, and they accomplish their initial project, creating one misshapen salad bowl each, and make plans for another project. That’s the first act.

In the second act, we see this new project (something everyone eventually needs), see a flashback to a live modeling art class newly retired Deb took with Fred’s wife Gladys (Eileen Koteles), and glide slowly toward a happy ending. It has the feel of two episodes of a sitcom stitched together and stretched to the length of a full-length play.

Robert Egizio has not directed the show with the frenetic pacing and over-the-top performances of a laugh-track-filled sitcom. The pace is good (at least of onstage action, if not of the script itself), and the performances are anchored in reality, although Mr. Strauss is given plenty of opportunity to make use of his amazing skills in vocal impressions. These are all fine performances that get plenty of laughs, but the material lets them down time and time again.

Where does the red plaid shirt come in? Well, Marty believes all woodworkers wear them, so he buys one along with a carpenter’s apron to look the part. That and the woodworking projects have given costumer Jim Alford and props designer Kathy Ellsworth plenty to do.

Lighting design by J.D. Williams uses nice gobo effects on the side sets of a coffeehouse stage right and a woodworking shop stage left, but otherwise uses general lighting on the central set of Marty and Deb’s living room. Chuck Welcome’s set design is as attractive and functional as ever, with the woodworking shop converted to an art classroom at the act break.

Rial Ellsworth’s sound effects consist primarily of an approaching car and the closing of car doors. There’s also music played between each of the many scenes, and I got thoroughly sick of portions of "When I’m Sixty-Four" being played during each and every one of the scene changes.

"A Red Plaid Shirt" was written by a Canadian, and we get some north-of-the-border terminology like "pensioner" and "chartered accountant" (Fred’s pre-retirement profession), but most of the show plays as pleasantly all-American. It obviously has been chosen by Stage Door Players to appeal to its largely retired audience population. Maybe they enjoy the husband-and-wife interplay of an existence that has added "24/7" to the vows of "till death do us part," but I found it pretty dull. A good, professional production of a sub-par play can’t rise to the heights of truly engaging entertainment. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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