The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife
Indiana Repertory Theatre
Directed by James Still
Through Jan. 29 Joe Muzikar, Elaine Hyman, and Marilyn Pasekoff in the IRT production of The Tale of the Allergist's Wife The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife is a fun romp through upper-crust New York society, but don’t expect anything particularly insightful or life-changing. Central character Marjorie is suffering from rich-woman blues. Her kids have grown and moved on with their lives and she feels unfulfilled. She takes this out on herself and everyone around her by sustaining a perpetual whine while tossing out names of cerebral authors and destroying expensive figurines at the Disney Store. Her husband, Ira, is chronically self-involved with charity work. And Frieda, the picture of the stereotypical Jewish mother, provides the toilet humor (watch how many times the word “suppository” is used). Into this bizarre threesome storms Lee, a long-lost childhood friend of Marjorie’s who has lived a life so full of events and famous people it seems chronologically impossible. Lee shakes Marjorie out of her doldrums, but challenges her, too — a challenge that Marjorie has to decide if she is up to. Marilyn Pasekoff as Marjorie is convincingly insufferable … perhaps too insufferable, because it is hard to sympathize with her. The same is true of Joe Muzikar as Ira. His clueless and overly-tolerant disposition leaves one frustrated, and his doe-eyed expressions and occasional rapt attention to his wife are annoying because he is giving her attention just as he would any adoring graduate student — but he isn’t listening. This lack of empathy with characters could easily have been director James Still’s choice, because friction between the audience and actors on stage is created. So be ready to feel uncomfortable. Cary Barker as Lee is all high-energy strut, which works well for her character, and Andrew Navarro as doorman and family friend Mohammed is fine. But when it comes to real enchantment, the earthy reality of Elaine Hyman as Frieda (suppositories in tow) reaps the most laughs. Hers is a character that, though as self-centered as those around her, you can still commune with. Set, lighting, costuming, etc. — perfection, as expected from the Indiana Repertory Theatre. The Allergist’s Wife, directed by James Still, continues through Jan. 29.