Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Our Lady of 121st Street"

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note: entire contents copyright 2004 by Beverly Creasey

Funny LADY

Reviewed by Beverly Creasey

From the get-go, SpeakEasy has proven to be one of the best “Off-Broadway” theaters in Boston. You can see all the nifty New York shows you missed in the Big Apple, usually the very next season at SpeakEasy. Company director Paul Daigneault specializes in the esoteric, the hip and the cool and OUR LADY OF 121st STREET is no exception. From start to finish OUR LADY is a delight, a veritable lexicon of modern mores. A dozen mourners, some who have never met before, show up for a funeral where the departed is missing…and so are the pants of one of the bereaved! Stephen Adly Guirgis’ rich roundelay reaps hilarious dividends and his sharp dialogue gives each character the chance for a star turn.

The quirky dramedy unites some of Boston’s best comic actors under Paul Melone’s adroit direction: Paulo Branco gets a sweet role, for a change, as the developmentally disabled brother of Luis Negron, the guy who’s trying to do the right thing by his brother. Then there’s Stacy Fisher, sensational as the wide-eyed ditz who eavesdrops her way to friendship. Rodney Raftery gets lots of laughs as Jim Spencer’s self-absorbed boyfriend, landing on his feet after Spencer’s character denies he’s gay.

Vincent Siders shows why he’s one of the best all round actors in town, as the shady mover and shaker whose confession (to Ray McDavitt’s exasperated priest) brings down the house. Jacqui Parker has a field day as Sider’s seething ex but it’s Elaine Theodore who makes the play sizzle as the gloriously imperious Norca, saying whatever comes into her head, doing whatever she pleases, including sleeping with her best friend’s husband.

Ricardo Engermann keeps the peace, and the play’s balance, as the cop who’s investigating the disappearance of the corpse and Jennifer Young rounds out the cast as the needy sister of the Lady of the title.

Eric Levenson’s simple set, with central casket and moveable benches easily converts from vestibule to sanctuary to confessional to café. Jenna Rossi-Camus’ clever costumes (especially for Theodore) speak volumes for each character. Don’t miss this funky little play.

"Our Lady of 121st Street" (5-27 March)
Boston Center for the Arts, BOSTON, MA
1 (617) 426-ARTS

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