Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Rx ***

(Please click on the title to see the entire review.)
Kate Fodor's new satire now in previews at Primary Stages has a lot going for it -- intriguing situations, sharply drawn characters, snappy dialogue, a flexible set, and smooth direction. The main characters are Meena Pierotti (Marin Hinkle), the editor of a trade publication about cattle and swine who so hates her job that she signs up for the clinical trial of a drug to combat workplace depression that is being conducted by the nerdy Phil Gray (Stephen Kunken), a researcher at Schmidt Pharma. Other characters include Allison (Elizabeth Rich), Phil's compulsively rigid boss: Simon (Michael Bakkenen), Meena's hunky boss; Frances (Marylouise Burke), a flaky widow that Meena meets in the underwear department of a nearby store where Meena flees when she has to cry; Richard, a Pharma marketing executive, and Ed, an absent-minded Pharma researcher (both played by Paul Niebanck). The cast is uniformly strong. The plot covers many bases: the ethics of the pharmaceutical industry, cruelty to animals in the food industry, job satisfaction, rekindling interest in life at an advanced age, the placebo effect, and even foot fetishism. Perhaps there are a few themes too many, because they don't fit together all that well and the result, at least for me, was a fuzzy focus. Perhaps they will smooth some of the rough edges before opening night. I hope so, because there is much to enjoy despite the play's flaws. Ethan McSweeny directed. Running time: 1 hour, 45 mintues, without an intermission.

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