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The Men of Mah Jongg, by Richard Atkins
A HOME RUN, A TOUCHDOWN, A HOLE IN ONE!
Monday, February 1, 2010
5.0
My husband and I drove up from Jacksonville to visit family in Roswell. We started out on the road quite early as it is a long ride to Atlanta, but when we finally arrived at my sister’s house, she surprised my husband and I with theatre tickets to a play I had never heard of. “The Men of Mah Jongg.”

My husband Jack and I were quite tired, but we figured we just had to sit in a theatre for two hours and be entertained. And boy, were we! The play was so fantastic, both my husband and I and my sister Rose and her husband Paul talked about it the whole way home. We even had a discussion about the play over drinks when we got back.

It got both Paul and Jack talking about their poker game and how interesting it was to them that the game of Mah Jongg helped these men come to terms with a lot of issues including grief, loss, friendship and most of all, hope for the future. At our age, it’s not easy to have hope for the future, but the play was inspired by its sense of humor coupled with how the writer handled the tragic aspects of what Sid, the main character is going through with the loss of his wife.

Then comes Marv with the issues he has with his wife Eloise, and you’ve got a tennis match of emotions and role switching. At the beginning of the play, Marv is Sid’s caregiver and then towards the end, Marv desperately needs Sid’s shoulder to literally cry on and the actor who played Marv did such a wonderful job. Of course, the main character of Sid was played wonderfully and if there was an Academy Award for regional theatre actors, he should get it. Oh, my husband just read his name from the program. Steve Coulter. Bravo Steve!

The other actors were very funny in their own right as well. The man who finds himself playing the role of an Alzheimers victim in a new play is hilarious, in spite of the subject matter. And Jerry, the guy who sings his life through song (and the same melody no less throughout the whole play) never gets old, meaning the joke doesn’t get old.

Between the ages of 7 until my 14th birthday, we had an apartment on the Upper West Side, 98th and Central Park West. The set made me homesick for Manhattan. So, bravo to the set designer. And Bravo to the director for putting all these elements into play that just soared! The whole production was a “WOW” and we’ve seen a lot in our years in Jacksonville. Maybe the play will come to Northern Florida so I can invite my lady friends as well as the guys to a wonderfully endearing play, “The Men of Mah Jongg!”

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