Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Harold and Maude"

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note: entire contents copyright 2016 by Tony Annicone


Reviewed by Tony Annicone

2nd Story Theatre's second summer show is "Harold and Maude" by Colin Higgins. This show is based on the 1971 cult movie with the same name by Higgins, too. It is a romantic dark comedy about the exploits of a young man, Harold who is intrigued by death. Harold drifts away from the life his detached mother prescribes for him. Harold is the proverbial poor little rich kid who attempts suicide but they are really cries for attention. He and Maude enjoy going to funerals and this is where they meet. Harold slowly develops quite a strong and close friendship and eventually a romantic relationship with the 79 year old Maude who teaches Harold to live life to the fullest. Life is the most precious gift of all. She tells him "Not to be afraid to be human'' and the ending is gut wrenching and extremely well done. Director Kevin Brocolli casts these roles beautifully and obtains topnotch performances from his 7 cast members.

He is aided in his task by set designer Candis Dixon. The two stunning leads are Evan Kinnane as Harold and Isabel O'Donnel as Maude. Evan whom I remember as a child actor is now 20 years old and is in college as a junior at Boston Conservatory. He has many funny scenes where he tries to off himself. This includes hanging himself, trying to blow himself up, chopping his hand off and committing hara-kiri. Also hilarious are his dating scenes with three different girls. All played excellently by Valerie Westgate. The first he scares off by setting himself on fire, the next by cutting off his hand and in the third she recites Juliet's speech and pretends to kill herself as the character of Sunshine. Evan's other comical moments include running out of breath while climbing a tree and in the stealing the tree scene. He makes the transition into happiness at the idea of marrying Maude, bringing Harold full circle to understanding what love really is. He definitely tugs at your heartstrings in the last scene with his terrific acting prowess at an early age while singing a Cat Stevens song while playing the ukulele. Isabel is phenomenal as the exuberant woman. She excellently captures the essence of this kindly older woman who loves life to the fullest and wishes to share her love with her young compatriot. Maude is also wacky and wild. She loves stealing cars, furniture, a seal, a tree and likes eating peanuts in church at funerals. Maude also makes Harold drink champagne and climb a very tall tree. Isabel delivers a multilayered performance as Maude teaches Harold many valuable lessons along the way. You would never believe Isabel is 79 years old. She is a whirling dervish in this show. Maude's motto is "To laugh and to cry is to become human". Both Evan and Isabel command the stage with their acting prowess in these roles.

Paula Faber is a hoot as Mrs. Chasen, Harold's disinterested mother. She forces him to see a shrink, ignores his suicide attempts, tries to get him married off to his computer dates and has a comic confrontation with Maude near the end of the show. Paula talks nonstop in her first scene in the show. She is astounding in this scene as she runs roughshod over Harold, the maid and the shrink. Some other comic characters are Charles Lafond as the flamboyant shrink who tries to cure Harold and also doubles as the police inspector who yearns to arrest Maude, Bill Oakes as Father Finnigan who chastises Maude when she eats peanuts in the church, faints at the thought of Harold and Maude having intercourse and Jen Michaels as the frightened maid, Maria as well as the indignant gardener who yells at Maude for stealing her wheelbarrow. So for a laugh out loud comedy with some life lessons to be learned along the way, be sure to catch "Harold and Maude" at 2nd Story Theatre. The ending will definitely tug at your heartstrings. Run do not walk to the box office before this show is sold out.

HAROLD AND MAUDE (1 to 24 July)
2nd Story Theatre, 28 Market St, Warren, RI
1(401)847-4200 or

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide