note: entire contents copyright 1999 by Beverly Creasey
The New Repertory Theatre in Newton Highlands begins its 15th season with Carter W. Lewis' comedy of sporting manners "Golf with Alan Shepard". Lewis sets an elderly foursome loose on the links situation-comedy style, then loops the loop into metaphysical optimism, like making miniature golf a prelude to the PGA.
At times the play is sweet. At times it's funny. At times it's annoying --- and long, like golf --- but it does become fascinating at the very end.
Rick Lombardo directs for the broad laughs --- where less guffaws might have made the show charming. Michael Bradshaw is over the top as a grousing, tennis-hating curmudgeon. Had he been less acerbic, we might have cared about the story beneath his defensiveness. Ed Sorrell is the sad sack whose catharsis involves exorcising the ghost of his dead brother. Jim Bodge is the darling widower who can't face life without his wife. (The playwright's explanation of why this character can't miss the hole every time was completely lost on me.) William Young gets the plum role of a defrocked priest: Lots of meaty material there, and Young makes the most of it, exuding enough "spiritual voltage" to light up a night game. (Maybe they don't have night golf, come to think of it.)
Kristin Loeffler's green grass set looks like a miniature golf course minus the windmills, and her zany costumes --- especially for Bradshaw --- look like miniature golf with the windmills. Daniel Meeker's lighting is lush as the turf, and Nicole Miller's props (socks for the clubs, towels for the guys) are as goofy as the game.