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McLean Community Players Social Security

By • Sep 18th, 2011 • Category: Reviews
Social Security by Andrew Bergman
McLean Community Players
Alden Theatre, McLean, VA
Through October 1st
2:00 with one intermission
$16/$14 Seniors and Students
Reviewed September 16th, 2011

Social Security is a comedy by Andrew Bergman. New York couple Barbara and David Kahn are paid a visit by Barbara’s sister Trudy. Somewhat over protective of their only child, they announce they must go to Buffalo to deal with their wild daughter who has dropped out of college and is making other ill-advised decisions. Trudy’s mother has been living with them and driving them nuts by demanding their attention and time, not accepting help from any outsiders, etc. When it is announced that Sophie is downstairs in the car Barbara and David have no choice but to bring her into their home and make the best of a tense situation. But Sophie proves to be almost too much to handle until she meets a tall dark stranger and the sparks of passion are awakened in the older couple.

Although the comedic timing was a little uneven at times, the overall pace of the show was smooth and there were many laughs.

Bob Sams who plays David Kahn did a masterful job of bringing his character to life, with solid expressions. The glee shining on his face during the stories being told by his in-laws was wonderful. His timing as well as that of Barbara Kahn played by Diane Sams was strong and well-balanced. The two complimented each other well and were quite down to earth and seemingly easy-going. Then enter Sophie Greengrass played by Ilma Striker. At first glance Sophie seemed on the verge of fading away, yet not before driving Barbara and David to the brink of insanity as well. There is just something about a mother and daughter relationship that makes the “hot button” 50 times bigger than any other relationship. Striker and Sams have a great scene in the second act where the guilt is flying and the darts are trying to be ducked by Barbara as Sophie relives bygone days and Barbara tries in vain to be the rational adult.

The healing balm to the Kahn family arrives unexpectedly when David brings home noted artist Maurice Koenig played by John Barclay Burns. A dapper older gentleman he manages to sweep Sophie off her feet and awaken feelings she thought were long gone after the death of her husband. Burns’ carefree, but authentic, affection for Sophie was evident in his actions and interactions with her.

Brarbara’s sister Trudy was played by Kim Thornley. Thornley appeared to be channeling Dana Carvey’s Church Lady most of the time. Trudy’s self-righteousness grew wearying, yet Thornley allowed Trudy to stay upbeat even while delivering bad news. Trudy’s browbeaten husband Martin was played efficiently by Jay Reiner.

The detailed set by Set Designer John Vasko seemed to fit the lifestyle of the artistic couple, except for the flaming red couch in the middle of the room that seemed to always be the focal point of anything happening on stage. Even throwing a quilt or a spread over it to tone it down would allow the action to continue without constantly being drawn to the sofa. Lighting Designer Bob Zeigler may have had some light issues as well. It appeared that the lights would get brighter for no seeming reason and then fade somewhat. This interrupted the flow and rhythm of the performance at times. Susan Boyd’s costumes were well done and accentuated each couple nicely. The specialty Painting by Dinnie Whitson was eye-catching.

Social Security was a fun show that deals with relationships, both old and new with feelings both buried and realized. Be aware that the show does contain some graphic sexual dialogue and action, so is not be appropriate for children under 16 years old.

Director’s Notes

I first came to know Social Security when my mother played the role of Sophie Greengrass about twenty years ago at a community theater in central Virginia. A brilliant comedienne, she really made me laugh with her portrayal of a crotchety little old lady who blossoms late in life. For this production, I’ve drawn on my inherited sense of comedy as well as my current experiences with my mother, who is not only Sophie’s age, but has many of her wonderfully quirky qualities.

Taking place in the 80’s, Social Security was written by Andrew Bergman, who is probably better know for hilarious screenplays such as “Blazing Saddles,” “The In-Laws,” and “Honeymoon in Vegas.” His clever dialogue provides the perfect framework for an exploration of relationships: husband and wife, sisters, in-laws, and parent and child. Bergman reaffirms the notion that hope springs eternal, and love – at any age – is what makes the world go ’round.

I’m lucky to work with a terrifically talented cast and production staff, and am grateful that my MCP colleagues had faith in my talents and selected me to direct this how. I wish I had room to thank all of the people who made this possible, from set constructors to stage hands, but I do want to give special thanks to producer Anna Hawkins, Stage Manager Douglas F. Yriart, and Dinnie Whitson who whipped up an amazing portrait you’ll see in the second act. We’re proud to present this show, and we hope you enjoy watching it as much as we enjoyed creating it.

Photo Gallery

Bob Sams, Diane Sams Jay Reiner, Kim Thornley
Bob Sams, Diane Sams
Jay Reiner, Kim Thornley
John Barclay Burns, Ilma Striker
John Barclay Burns, Ilma Striker

Photos by Traci Brooks

Cast

  • Barbara Kahn: Diane Sams
  • David Kahn: Bob Sams
  • Maurice Koenig: John Barclay Burns
  • Sophie Greengrass: Ilma Striker
  • Martin Heyman: Jay Reiner
  • Trudy Heyman: Kim Thornley

Crew

  • Director: Shayne Gardner
  • Producer: Anna Hawkins
  • Assistant Director: Summer Donaldson
  • Stage Manager: Douglas F. Yriart
  • Assistant Stage Manager: Sherry Singer
  • Set Designer: John Vasko
  • Master Carpenter: George Farnsworth
  • Lighting Designer: Bob Seigler
  • Master Electrician: Liz Owens, Nathan Devonshyre
  • Sound Designer: Zack Sanders
  • Set Dressing: Mike Smith
  • Specialty Painting: Dinnie Whitson
  • Costumer: Susan Boyd
  • Props: Ken Kuk
  • Set Construction and Painting: Emily Besuden, George and Cathy Farnsworth, Bernie Gmiter, Anna Hawkins, Columba Hoban, Dick La Porte, Mike Smith, Terry Yates, Bob Zeigler
  • House Manager: Columba Hoban, Tula Pendergrast
  • Running Crew: Emily Besuden, Anna Hawkins, Jenny Levy, Jean Matich, Kate Miller, Candice Newman, Zack Sanders, Elizabeth Wright
  • Publicity: Bunny Bonnes, Kathy Farnsworth, Columba Hoban, Tula and Dell Pendergrast, Brent Stone, Terry Yates
  • Auditions: Cathy and Georg Farnsworth, Ken kuk, Sherry Singer, Linda Stone, Elizabeth Wright, Terry Yates
  • Photographer: Traci J. Brooks
  • Webmaster, Playbill: George Farnsworth

Disclaimer: McLean Community Players provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review. MCP also purchased advertising on the ShowBizRadio.net web site, which did not influence this review.

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started ShowBizRadio in August 2005 because they love live theater. They each have both performed in and worked behind the scenes in DC area productions, as well as earned a Career Studies Certificate in Theater from Northern Virginia Community College. Mike & Laura are each members of the American Theatre Critics Association, and Mike is a member of the Online News Association.

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