Professional Nonprofit Theater on Martha's Vineyard
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A Love Triangle Plus One, New Play Is Four Wheeling Farce

By Louisa Hufstader, Vineyard Gazette

 

If you already happen to belong to a love triangle encompassing an earnest psychotherapist, an alcoholic ex-standup comic 12-stepping his way to recovery and a sexy but unstable action-movie superstar, then you don’t need to see Who You See Here, the latest production at the Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse.

But that would be denial.

Matt Hoverman’s brisk, yet insightful new farce opens tonight, August 10, and runs through Sept. 2. It begins and ends with a married couple making a salad together. In between, Tara the psychotherapist and her husband Stan, still adjusting to sobriety and hoping to start a family, find their bond and their honesty going to pieces when film superstar Tom drops into their lives.

At an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting in the rural town where they retreated to start their family, Stan pretends he doesn’t know who Tom is. But at home, he can’t keep from spilling the beans to his wife — and violating a core tenet of the recovery program (the play’s title echoes an AA meeting admonition: “What you see here, what you hear here, when you leave here, let it stay here.”).

Not to be outdone, Tara gives her business card to Tom at the supermarket and he’s soon her newest client, and a suitor — none of which she mentions to her husband. In fact, she’s told Tom she is a widow.

The speed with which Stan and Tara (played by real-life married couple Russell Soder and Angela Goethals) abandon their principles to pursue Tom’s attention is matched only by the insatiable neediness of the black-clad superstar, portrayed by Mather Zickel.

Kat Fairaway plays a loopy nymphomaniac to perfection. — MJ Bruder-Munafo

“No one knows how lonely it is to be the Sexiest Man Alive,” Tom moans to Tara, referring to his multiple appearances as People magazine’s model male.

While Tom is falling for Tara, husband Stan is making a last-ditch play for his wife — egged on by Tom, as neither man realizes he’s in love with the same woman.

Meanwhile, Tara’s client Beth — a loopy young nymphomaniac, played with barely contained glee by Kat Fairaway in her professional theatre debut — is desperately trying to attach herself to Tom, by any means possible. It’s only a matter of time, of course, before all four characters converge at the Motel on the Highway. Mr. Hoverman’s crisply comic, yet empathetic writing, and the strong cast directed by Jeanie Hackett, lift Who You See Here far above genre clichés.

Along with Lisa Pegnato’s versatile set, enhanced by JB Lamont’s projection designs and Christopher S. Chambers’s lighting, this production is noteworthy for its scene and costume changes. Instead of stagehands, the four cast members — in costume and character — move the props and furniture and assist with set and costume dressing during the quick scene changes. There’s no reason for audiences to look away.

What You See Here opens on August 10. It continues through Sept. 2. — MJ Bruder-Munafo

The playhouse does not recommend this production for audiences under 13 because the action on stage includes profanity, partial nudity and a couple of simulated sex acts, performed under bedcovers without further obscurity. But adults of all ages will find much to enjoy in Who You See Here, which plays Tuesdays through Saturdays on the playhouse’s Patricia Neal Stage.

Also on the main stage, Mondays are again the hottest ticket of the week now that the playhouse’s Monday Night Specials series has resumed presenting one-night staged readings of new plays. An extra row of seats had to be added to accommodate the capacity crowd on August 7 for Larry Mollin’s Please Come to Boston, an ambitious and satisfying new work from a playwright with an affinity for music and songwriters.

Mr. Mollin, whose High Time opened the 2016 playhouse season, has crafted a compelling backstory for the titular song, a 1974 Grammy winner for singer-songwriter Dave Loggins, whose blessing Mr. Mollin secured for the play. Mr. Mollin’s brother, professional musician Fred Mollin, provided backing guitar and an unexpected vocal.

The next Monday Night Special, August 14, is The Garbologists, a new comedy by Lindsay Joelle.

Who You See Here runs through Sept. 2. Performances begin at 7:30 p.m. For tickets and information, visit mvplayhouse.org.

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