Theatrical Review: “Love, Sex, and the I. R. S.”
Written by: William “Billy” Zandt and Jane Milmore
Directed by: Debbie Kilfoil
Theatrical Review by: Paul Adam Smeltz
The Shawnee Playhouse in Shawnee on the Delaware, PA presented Prestige Productions’ “Love, Sex, and the I.R.S” by William “Billy” Zandt and Jane Milmore. The play (originally titled, “Tax My Mistress”) was written in 1979 and has become a favorite among numerous community theatre companies who perform it during the US Federal Tax filing season whose deadline is April 15th. However, it has also been presented in foreign countries as well. It is known for its plentiful sight gags, double entendre, and funny lines. This production of “Love, Sex, and the I. R. S” presented them all intact.
The play centers around the premise a young man named “Jon Trachtman” (as portrayed by Joe Arner) has been filing his Federal income tax returns declaring his roommate, “Leslie Arthur” (as portrayed by Jim Lynch), as his wife for several years. Complications (which are more of them in this play than the tax code itself) begin when Jon discovers he’s being audited in which he tells Leslie of his deception and pleads with him to present himself as his wife when the Auditor, named, “Floyd Spinner” (as portrayed by Fred Broadbent) arrives. Of course, he agrees.
I did mention there’s a lot of complications in the plot of this play, didn’t I? Well, here are a few of them. Jon is having a romantic relationship with a woman named “Kate Dennis” (as portrayed by Samantha Crawn) who is also having a romantic relationship with Leslie with whom she plans to leave Jon for. Leslie has a girl friend named “Connie” (as portrayed by Jenell Manzi) who he loves but is broken hearted since he feels his love for her is unrequited. Jon and Leslie rent their apartment from Mr. Jensen (as portrayed by Dan Luddeni) who has a clause in their rental agreement that no unmarried couples are allowed to cohabitate which allows him to check the apartment from time to time to make sure there are no women living there. Then, there’s Jon’s mother “Vivian Trachtman” (as portrayed by Pat Van Varick) who further complicates things as only a mother could. This is especially evident when she obtains a Justice of the Peace, named, “Arnold Grunion” (as portrayed by Merlin Clarke) to marry her son and her “Fiancé.” Are you still with me?
The play does seem a bit dated as many of the attitudes among the characters toward women, homosexuals, and life in general are associated with those prevalent nearly 30 years ago. Even the style of acting is reminiscent of the time. This is especially true of Jim Lynch’s over the top performance of his role which brought to mind a combined Tony Randall and Jack Lemmon “Odd Couple” performance. However, if one can remember they’re watching a play written during (as the author once mentioned in a reminiscence of his work) “a more innocent age when a car jack was something you fixed a tire with and crack was something you saw on a plumber,” its fun and frivolity shines through making it an enjoyable theatrical experience and one comes to realize Jim Lynch could not portray his character any other way without betraying what the author intended.
In fact, the overall acting was spot on and enhanced the comedic effect of the production. The timing was very fast paced as a slapstick comedy requires while taking the time to slow it down long enough for the audience to absorb a gag line delivered in the mayhem. This balance is a very difficult thing to achieve and the direction of the play given by Debbie Kilfoil creates this balance with a great deal of finesse. And, the 1980’s mindset of the play soon becomes as easily forgotten as the realizations modern feminism can be while enjoying William Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew.”
The Shawnee Playhouse presentation of Prestige Productions of William “Billy” Zandt and Jane Milmore’s “Love, Sex, and the I. R. S.” was Directed by Debbie Kilfoil and was Stage Managed by Irene Garner. The set was designed by Mike Crawn while Joseph Bednarchik served as the production’s Lighting Director. All of the productions presented at The Shawnee Playhouse are produced by Ginny and Charlie Kirkwood. The Executive of The Shawnee Playhouse is Midge McClosky while its group sales manager is Mary Horn. The Box Office Staff includes Chrissy McMannus and Ariel Hudak. Becky Haskell serves as the playhouse’s Sales and Marketing Director.
Prestige Productions’ “Love, Sex, and the I. R. S.” by William “Billy” Zandt and Jane Milmore continues its run until April 17th. It’s fun night at the theatre and I would recommend seeing it to anyone who would enjoy a good laugh or a mere smile. In any case, the joyously complicated roller coaster ride is worth the price of admission. Just bring some smelling sauce or some bad smelling cheese to revive yourself.
Prestige Productions is creator of The State Theatre of Easton, PA Summer Acting Camp. It is directed by Denise Crawn and is now in its 9th year teaching young people the skills associated with the theatrical arts. The 2011 Summer Acting Camp will be held July 11th - 22nd with a camp recital held Saturday July 23rd. To learn more about Prestige Productions and their Summer Acting Camp (including registration information), please Explore The State Theatre Website at www.statetheatre.org of call 610-252-3132.
Future presentations at The Shawnee Playhouse will include The Center Stage Players production of “Love Letters” by A. R. Gurney April 22nd - May 1st, “The Seafarer” by Conor McPherson, “River’s Edge: The Story of Shawnee” by Midge McClosky and Rod Foote May 20th - September 2nd, “Sisters of Swing: The Story of the Andrews Sisters” by Beth Gilleland, Bob Beverage, and Raymond Berg June 1st - September 3rd, and “Nunsense 2: The Second Coming” by Dan Goggin June 17th - September 4th. Those who enjoy the Passionate Art Lover level of membership in The Forwardian Arts Society are offered a $3.00 discount off the admission fee of The Shawnee Playhouse Productions (excluding Children Theatrical Productions and those presented by non Shawnee Production Companies). Please contact The Shawnee Playhouse at 570-421-5093 or Explore their website at www.theshawneeplayhouse.com for more information and to reserve your ticket.
Photograph provided by The Shawnee Playhouse.