Parallel Lives

Parallel Lives

Parallel Lives
By Mo Gaffney and Kathy Najimy
Directed by Jay Hopkins
Jester Theatre at the Orlando Shakespeare Theatre
Orlando, FL

I have to start paying better attention. I thought this was a cross gender Noel Coward production, but it’s actually collection of skits and scenes. But you have to admit that a cross gendered Noel Coward comedy would be the sort of wacky thing Jester might pull off. I stand corrected, and now to the event actually produced: It has its moments, and most of them are pretty funny. The best by far is “Three Sisters”. Mom is dead, and Lizzie (Jodie Chase) and Marla (Michele Feren (Sims)) prepare for the funeral and accept an endless supply of tuna fish casserole while waiting for their space cadet sister Karen (Karen White). It’s all funeral gags and laughs until one of them finds Karen hiding in a closet listening to old tape. Rather than nail another gag, we see a touching reconciliation and a nice short play with real heart. The movie “West Side Story” provides the frame work for “Annette and Gina”, they are two teens in love with the movie and trying to relate it to their confusing teen age lives: Annette (Chase) posits the question to Gina (Feren): “Would we still be best friends even if I had just killed your entire family?” I guess this can come up for real, but it does put a friend in a tough spot. Another solid piece that took some time to grow on me is “Hank and Karen Sue.” Hanks (Feren) had a few too many Budwiesers and Karen (White) has had a few too many men but eventually Hank’s endless pick up line loop wears her down: sure, she’ll marry him, what difference could it possibly make? While not exactly ha-ha funny, it’s an amusing piece many times better than the short plays we see around town. Lastly I’ll mention “God”, here young Teri (Maria Ragen) and Tina (Chase) sneak out of mass and debate what it means for all the nuns to be married to The Big Guy upstairs. Their discussion of religion is as good as any I’ve seen and they come to about the same conclusions. All four of these women are brilliant comics, and director Hopkins did an excellent job selecting them for contrasting looks and ability hit their timing. Funny yet feminist, this show made most of the guys in the audience laughed as hard as the competing team.

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