Theatre Mirror Reviews-"Harold And Maude"

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entire contents copyright 2015 by Tony Annicone

"Harold And Maude"

A Review by Tony Annicone

New England Repertory Company's winter show is "Harold and Maude" by Colin Higgins. The show is based on the cult 1971 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. He 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.  He slowly develops quite a strong and close friendship and eventually a romantic relationship with a 79 year old woman named Maude who teaches Harold about living life to its fullest and that 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 excellently done. Mike Kiernan casts these roles beautifully and obtains topnotch performances from his hard working cast.

He is aided in his task by Ted Talanian who designed a gorgeous unit storybook set for the show with costumes and props by Mary Jane McCool. The two stunning leads are played by Petr Favazza and Beth Goldman. Petr has many funny scenes where he tries to off himself. This includes hanging himself, blowing himself up, chopping his hand off and committing hari-kiri. Also comical are his computer dating scenes with Melissa Franklin playing three different roles each of them hysterical. Her last one is Sunshine and she recites Juliet's death scene. Petr is hilarious when he spits champagne back in the glass as well as in the bong scene. He delivers the goods in the poignant last scene, too.Beth captures the kindly woman who loves life and shares her love with her young friend. Maude is also wacky and wild. She loves stealing cars, furniture, a seal, a tree and likes to eat peanuts in church at funerals. Maude also makes Harold drink champagne and smoke dope from a bong. Beth delivers a multilayered performance in this role as Maude teaches him many valuable lessons along the way.  She commands the stage as this character.

Alice Springer is a hoot as the disinterested mother who ignores Harold's suicide attempts, forces him to see a shrink, tries to get him married off to his computer dates and has a comic confrontation with Maude near the end of the show. She talks nonstop in her first scene of the show which is astounding as she runs roughshod over Harold, the maid and the shrink. Some other comic characters include Bruce Church as the shrink who tries to cure Harold, Robert Ellis Smith as Father Finnegan who chastises Maude for eating peanuts in church, forgives her for stealing his car and scolds Harold for wanting to marry an older woman with hilarious descriptive phrases,  7th grader Jacob Parkman plays a funny role that has to be seen to be believed, Janet Schmidt plays the frightened maid, Marie, Jeffrey Wilson plays the Inspector who is yearning to finally arrest Maude, Alan Conway does double duty in the show as stage manager and Sgt. Doppel and Ruth Shane plays 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, be sure to catch "Harold and Maude" at MMAS. The ending will definitely tug on your heartstrings. Run do not walk to the box office, before this show is sold out.

"Harold And Maude" (23 January - 8 February)
@ MMAS Black Box Theatre, 377 North Main Street, MANSFIELD MA

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide