This new play tells the tale of a recently widowed father and his adult son, both venturing into the online dating world. Adventures begin, relationships are examined, and heartwarming moments are found along the way.
One of the great challenges of a play is finding a way to move the plot along quickly. Typically even the best shows require a good fifteen minutes before taking off and getting into a nice pace. Assisted Loving finds it's groove within the first few lines. This is in part to the talents of writer Bob Morris and partly thanks to the undeniable talents of Dad himself, played by the incredibly gifted Barry Pearl.
Pearl has a number of top-notch credits in movies, on Broadway, and on Television. No doubt, Pearl is most likely recognized for playing Doody, one of the T-Birds in the now-classic movie musical Grease. I'll be honest; it was one of the first things I thought about as I waited for the lights to go down. My thoughts included the following: Does he have his T-Birds Jacket? Does he still know how to dance to Grease Lightening? How did he survive the crazy golf cart scene when he returned to Riedel High last year for Great Live? All of those thoughts and more exited my head by his forth line.
Barry Pearl is a comic genius. From his swagger and stance to the natural comedic essence to the way he gives his lines, his performance is well thought out, extremely lovable, and just darn funny. However, it's also lived in and deep. Soon movements that got him laughs become natural parts of a character struggling with his son, the loss of his wife, and several other hysterical problems. Do yourself a favor and see him perform this role.
Brian Sills returns to The Rep to play the David, the son, and narrator of our journey. Sills is superb and very funny, all while giving a very nuanced and detailed performance of a very reserved person. Sills has a natural ability to set the speed for each scene. When David wants you out of the room, you get out. When he's hesitant you feel that intensity of hitting the breaks. It's incredible to see a performer command the stage in that way. Sills and Pearl find a way to drive the show together and the end result is a wonderful night at the theatre.
Bravo, Bravo, Bravo to Cheryl Stern who not only plays the enduring Edie but also about a dozen other characters. All of which seem like they would be cousins to Fran Drenchers character on the Nanny, all extremely funny. Much like her onstage counterparts, Stern's performance was very well fleshed out, fun to watch, and gratifying to cheer for.
Director, and Capital Rep favorite, Gordon Greenberg (fresh off of his Broadway Directorial-Debut with Holiday Inn) has found four fantastic actors who have already fleshed out amazing characters. Which is saying a lot for world premier that's only had about half a dozen performances. Bravo to Mr. Greenberg, and the entire cast.
That cast also includes the charming, funny, and versatile Max Wokowitz as Max (along with a handful of other characters). Wokowitz is sweet, funny, nerdy, and extremely satisfying in the role. As one person in the audience put it, "That sexy nerd is just charming."
The story is simple and real. The topics are current and extremely relatable. As I sat in the audience on opening night I turned to my guest with a big sigh and admitted that I was David in many ways. That may be what's so appealing about this show. It's funny, current, warm, but also completely real. Do yourself a favor take some tips from dad and go see Assisted Loving (Dating with my Dad) at The Rep through February 19.