By: Susan Hasho
This play, by Helen Sneed at the Abington Theatre Company’s Dorothy Strelsin Theatre (312 West 36th Street), is a political comedy set in a Neiman Marcus store in Texas. But it’s also a getting-over-past-dysfunction by dealing with the ghosts of your family trouping through your store dressing room story. Annnabell Armstrong (played with a charming and true sense of the zany by Polly Lee) is an up-and-coming player in the Texas Democratic Party in Reagan’s 1980s America. She is having an anxiety attack seemingly because she needs to find the right dress for a wedding. But she is really having an anxiety attack for reasons you will discover if you go to the play. Which you should, because it’s funny and real and all the actors are fun to watch.
I mean when the Neiman sales clerk Mrs. Craig says to Annabell, “You’re in Neiman Marcus, you’re safe” as a way to stop her anxiety, you know you’re in a particularly wacky reality.
The play is short with no intermission and the players let all their Southern comedy fly by teasing the cliché in charming ways. Annabell’s mother (Lori Gardner) is a fan of anorexia and insists on passing this gift on to her daughter as well as a healthy dose of self-hate. Annabell’s grandmother (played with high style by Lisa McMillan) loves guns, is anti-everything not like herself and is also chock full of opinions. Needless to say Annabell comes by a psychiatrist (Mitch Tebo as Dr. Maxwell Feld) on the way to health and her younger self (Kate Froemmling) makes regular appearances. Continuity is served by the staunch and fabulous ongoing appearances of the sales clerk played with great charm and panache by Lee Roy Rogers.
The set and costumes by Christopher Ford and Dakota Rose speak volumes and are characters in and of themselves. And the direction by Sam Pinkerton hits a perfect balance between idiosyncratic and true. He has allowed the actors to unleash their inner comedy in great ways.
The playwright (Helen Sneed) has a true gift for comedy that doesn’t sacrifice true character for laugh lines; and she fully exploits Texas for all the sass it has to offer. It’s a good night in the theatre and a good choice for the Abington Theatre Company—pick up your political leanings and go.
Photo: Kim T. Sharp
Call 866-811-4111 Or Visit www.abingdontheatre.org Thru Nov. 24th