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The Tale of the Allergist's Wife

a Atlanta Premiere
CATEGORY : COMEDY
by Charles Busch

COMPANY : Horizon Theatre Company [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Horizon Theatre Company [WEBSITE]
ID# 828

SHOWING : October 17, 2003 - November 30, 2003

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PRODUCTION DESCRIPTION


CAST & CREW LIST
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REVIEWS

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Dim Sum Theatre
by Dedalus
Tuesday, December 2, 2003
2.0
It is appropriate that Charles Busch’s “The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife” includes a scene of Chinese Food dining. Like a Dim Sum menu, this production (recently concluding its run at Horizon Theatre) included a small taste of many different theatrical appetizers, but, in the final analysis, did not really constitute a full meal and left me hungry for more shortly after it was over. In full honesty, I’ve thought about it very little since seeing it last week.

The play opened very well, with Mary Lynn Owen giving an over-the-top reading of a fetching and kvetching upper-class Manhattan neurotic, Marjorie. She is soon joined by her bland husband and irregular mother, played very well by Jared Simon and Marianne Fraulo. These first scenes were funny and involving and established the characters in more dimension than my short description implies.

We’re then given a taste of mystery as Marjorie’s childhood friend Lee (Leigh Campbell-Taylor) accidentally (?) stumbles into the plot. Is this world-travelling, name-dropping force of nature real, a figment of the imagination, or a bizarre construct of the plot? These questions drive Act I to a satisfying conclusion, and leave us hungry for the answers.

Act II throws in a very spicy taste of eroticism and Chinese Food, both tasteful and enjoyable.

The problem comes when “all is revealed.” The answer to the “mystery of Lee” is not only unsatisfying, it is also fairly bogus. In essence (spoiler alert), Marjorie and her husband reject and evict Lee on evidence that wouldn’t get past a grand jury. Their action shows them to be quite petty, grasping onto any excuse to avoid facing the truths about them that Lee’s seductions (both physical and emotional) laid bare. It was as if a drowning person threw back the life-preserver because they didn’t like its color. And this is how we leave these characters and how we remember them.

The bottom line is that Lee may be a bit corrupt and manipulative, or merely a dupe of others who are, or the even victim of another character’s misplaced vindictiveness. These questions are left unanswered by the script. But she is definitely a vivid and invigorating character who gives both Marjorie and Ira a rocket boost of vitality. And she is rejected because they’re embarrassed by what she showed them about themselves.

Please, let’s send back the Dim Sum and get a real meal on stage!

-- Brad Rudy (BKRudy@aol.com)
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