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By Dana Casadei
The title of the show may be referring to plastic surgery, but it’s shown quickly – and often – that everyone could use a little work, and not just the kind done by doctors and scalpels.
In the world premiere of “A Little Work,” written by Anita Diament and Stephen McCauley and directed by Diane Hill, the main focus is the relationship between best friends Mia (Barbie Amann Weisserman) and Kitty (Nancy Cooper), when the latter comes to visit after having “a little work” done.
Kitty and Mia have the kind of friendship where you know everything about the other, including those secrets shared over booze-filled nights. They’re the one that will take care of you, call you out on being stupid, fight with you and make you laugh, all within an hour.
Weisserman plays the more straight-laced of the duo. Mia’s been with the same man, Ben (Patrick O’Lear), since college, has a daughter (Erin Hildebrandt) and has been teaching middle school English awhile. It’s really no wonder she’s a bit blue and feels like she’s vanishing. Add hot flashes, some ugly dresses and you’ve got a combination ready for combustion.
To put it simply, Kitty is everything Mia isn’t. She’s a woman willing to take chances, she speaks her mind and doesn’t care if she pisses you off, and most importantly she’ll do anything for her best friend. Cooper is extremely entertaining to watch as self-obsessed, diva Kitty, especially when she’s still on her pain meds after her surgery.
Kitty and Mia aren’t the only ones that need a little something extra. The show, coming in at 75 minutes with no intermission, tries to cram quite a bit into such a short amount of time.
While I found it commendable to fit so much in under 90 minutes, I really wish that some of these plots could have been further developed and not resolved so quickly. If the show had an extra 30 minutes, certain plot points would have felt far less rushed and more real.
Also as much as I liked Michael Lopetrone’s portrayal of Alex, they kept mentioning he was from Texas and his lovely accent, but there wasn’t much of an accent; he sounded like everyone else.
The setting, designed by Bill Mandt, may have been in a condo in Massachusetts, but I couldn’t help but think that it would have been better placed in a retirement home in Florida. There was a nice floral print couch that I’m sure my grandmother and her friends would have thoroughly enjoyed, and the wallpaper was an interesting choice. Maybe it’s a generational thing; maybe I just hate tacky wallpaper.
While the show has a couple things to work on, there were other moments that left my sides aching, especially the scene with Mia’s book club. I would have gladly watched a play based around the book club. If it had added LuAnne, Barbara Bicknell in a scene stealing performance, I would have seen it 50 times.
Book club members Maxine (Maureen Mansfield), Ruth (Rae McIntosh) and Marta (Margaret Gilkes) had me laughing so hard when discussing Kitty’s book. The three women were complete opposites, but they did have one thing in common: all have had some sort of plastic surgery. As Ruth tells Mia, “It’s just what people do.”
Maybe someday that will change and aging gracefully will be “cool” again. Here’s hoping it does, since this journalist won’t be able to afford that kind of work and has no desire to look like Joan Rivers.
Here’s to wrinkles, getting gray and that best friend that will tell us when a sweater is on backwards!
‘A Little Work’
Two Muses Theatre at Barnes and Noble Booksellers Theatre, 6800 Orchard Lake Road, West Bloomfield. Friday-Sunday through Sept. 30. $18. 248-850-9919. http://www.TwoMusesTheatre.org