Hilarious Hot Flashes and Other Mid-Life Crises of the Woman: “Women in Jeopardy”

Gail Rastorfer, Julia Brothers, and Jessica Wortham. Photo by Meghan Moore.

Presented by Merrimack Repertory Theatre 
Written by Wendy MacLeod
Directed by Sean Daniels

February 15-March 12, 2017
50 E. Merrimack Street, Lowell MA 01852
MRT on Facebook

Review by Kate Lew Idlebrook

(Lowell, MA) My husband and I had a very stressful week that culminated in the knowledge that our heater, broken since Thursday, wouldn’t be fixed until Monday. So by the time Saturday night arrived, we were in need of some good, comedic distraction, and Women in Jeopardy, premiering at the the Merrimack Repertory Theater, rose to the challenge.

Lifelong friends, Mary (Jessica Wortham) and Jo (Julia Brothers), grow increasingly concerned that Jackson, the new beau of their fellow divorcee Liz (Gail Restorer), may be responsible for the recent disappearance of his dental hygienist. They toss wine glasses and a bottle into their purses, and head out into the Utah night to get to the bottom of the caper. Things become increasingly more complicated when Liz’s daughter, Amanda (Ashley Shaman) and her on-again-off-again boyfriend, Trenner (Jacob York), get involved. Misunderstandings and general hilarity ensue, not to mention a lot of discussion of sex and boobs.

This cast sets out to do a farce, and they succeed. As the play progresses, the actors seem to gain confidence and the characters grow on you. By the end, you care about them all, from creepy dentist-beau Jackson (Lou Sumrall) to self-absorbed Amanda. Part of the reason this show works so well is that the actors never let the high levels of energy falter and they don’t, not even for a beat, take themselves seriously. This is not to say that there aren’t genuine, well-timed uncomfortable and vulnerable moments. Jessica Wortham delivers some fantastic, dry zingers. Julia Brothers provides the play with a steady straight woman, punctuated by comic relief whenever the plot threatens to turn too serious.

Lou Sumrall plays double duty as Jackson and Sargent Sponsüllar, the ernest investigating police detective. In some ways Sumrall’s roles require the most risk. Pulling off Jackson’s awkward, one-liners means trusting his fellow actors and the audience enough to let the moments sit. While he is not one hundred percent successful yet, he frequently succeeds, and the audience rewards him for it.

Scenic Designer Michael B. Raiford’s set is a typically-comfortable suburban kitchen. It provides the perfect backdrop. Placing the audience and the characters at home, it does what a good set should, by being initially pleasing and then fading into the backdrop.

As long as you are not turned off by the woman’s copious talk of middle-age sex and mid-life crisis, you’ll find Women in Jeopardy an enjoyable escape from the stress of everyday life. And you will appreciate coming home to a warm house all the more, especially if it is your mother’s.

Queen’s Note:
we elected a thin skinned bigot to the office of the President dead set on turning our “democracy” into a fascist, totalitarian oligarchy dominated by the 1%. His plan to slash the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for Humanities is HERE. Trump is a monster. His policies, when he names them, are destructive. His narcissistic behavior is more so. Fight him. And, for the love of all that’s sacred, keep creating. If you need help, ask for it. Our existence is our resistance. May the force be with you. – KD

Sign the petition to protect the National Endowment HERE.

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