Encore Michigan

‘Love, Lies And The Doctor’s Dilemma’ is yucks at The Barn

Review June 13, 2019 Sue Merrell

AUGUSTA, Mich.–Nothing can top a perfect summer day better than a night of nonsense. And that’s exactly what you can expect from Love, Lies And The Doctor’s Dilemma, the second show of the summer season at The Barn Theatre in Augusta.

Unlike the door-slamming, sex-centered British farces, this all-American farce by Michael Parker and his wife Susan Parker is not quite so hectic. Each of the six characters finds romance and passionate kisses, but the “lies” in the title are not about cheating on a loved one. In fact the plot quickly becomes centered on the “doctor’s dilemma.”

Widow Joan is in love with her former gardener, Sandy, but to hide the affair she tells her visiting sister-in-law,  Olivia, that he is her psychiatrist. Soon everyone is telling all in sessions with the good Doc. Olivia, a wealthy, overbearing actress, confesses a desire to spice up her sex life. Vinnie, a mobster looking for Joan’s son, Chris, admits he is ready to give up the life of crime. Nutty neighbor Rachael wonders why everything she touches turns to chaos.

Patrick Hunter does a great job as the reluctant doctor. His trademark response, “What do you think?”, soon becomes an automatic laugh line. As Joan, Mary Jane Guymon offers calm confidence as she comes up with one whopper lie after another. Samantha Rickard quickly commands the stage as the domineering Olivia, but reveals a redeeming heart. As Vinnie, Barn regular Charlie King portrays a very believable mob enforcer with soft spots.

One of the funniest characters is neighbor Rachael. The script deals her a vocabulary of hilariously misused words, but performer Melissa Cotton Hunter adds to the comedy by imbuing the character with a sing-song, whiny voice so the audience was laughing before she finished her first sentence. Jonnie Carpathios also has added some humorous mannerisms as Joan’s son Chris – and alter ego Christine.

An open window and a swinging kitchen door added to the requisite farce chase scenes. Some of the biggest laughs came from physical comedy such as the timely popping of a well placed balloon and an ice-cube wake-up.

Tuesday’s opening performance for a half-full house of about 200 started off a bit sluggish. And the promise of marijuana brownies never quite reaches the expected high.  I suspect this potentially hilarious farce will pick up steam as the timing is tightened during the one-week run.

Week of 9/25/2023

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