Albee play at Stage West to resonate with suburbanites wanting to live larger

Richard (Phil Gianakas, standing at right) is joined by other duped husbands (Chris Hubner as Chuck, left, Chris Donnelly as Perry, and Juan Triana as Gilbert) in the dark comedy/drama.

Carol Ballard | Special to the Times

Richard (Phil Gianakas, standing at right) is joined by other duped husbands (Chris Hubner as Chuck, left, Chris Donnelly as Perry, and Juan Triana as Gilbert) in the dark comedy/drama.

During the Great Recession, when money is tight for just about everyone and many people are getting desperate, Edward Albee's 1967 play Everything in the Garden seems as timely as ever.

In it, suburbanites Jenny and Richard (Jessica Virginia, Girl in Veronica's Room; Phil Gianakas, Lefty in Heaven Can Wait) seem comfortable in their rambling old home, except that they don't think they have enough money.

Sure, they have a nice, albeit heavily mortgaged, house; a car; pretty, if unpretentious, furniture; and membership in a country club. But what about all the little extras: a new lawn mower, designer clothes, perhaps a greenhouse? After all, Jenny loves her garden and her flowers, and Richard loves his green, crisply clipped grass.

They're visited by a wealthy neighbor, Jack (Gary Depp), who teases them that he's going to make them his heirs, which boosts their appetite for money.

Jenny suggests she get a job, but in true 1960s form, Richard forbids it. "I'm not going to have a wife of mine working at some job, and running a house, and looking after Roger (their son) when he's home from school," Richard thunders.

Their fortunes change after Jenny is visited by the mysterious Mrs. Toothe (Cheryl Roberts), an elegantly dressed matron.

Soon the formerly threadbare couple seems to be rolling in dough, so much so that they throw a party, where many of the other women guests seem to know Mrs. Toothe — especially the comely Cynthia (Caroline Logsted), Louise (Jeanene MacLean) and Beryl (Rose DeAngelo) — and call her "fairy godmother."

It turns out that the station wagon ladies are plying the world's oldest profession, unbeknownst to their husbands, the trusting Gilbert (Juan Triana), Perry (Chris Donnelly) and Chuck (Chris Hubner).

Equally unaware is young Roger (Nick Martinez), who is off at boarding school.

When Richard finally begins to comprehend the situation, he reacts with rage. But a turn of events changes everything.

The play is based on a play of the same name by Giles Cooper and was first produced in London. Albee's play changes some of the names and plot twists but keeps the theme of the rot at the core of modern life.

Some critics loved it and others, most notably the New York Times' late Walter Kerr, excoriated it. The play ran for 84 performances on Broadway in 1967 and 1968 and starred the late Barbara Bel Geddes and Barry Nelson as Jenny and Richard.

if you go

'Everything in the Garden'

Where: Stage West Community Playhouse, 8390 Forest Oaks Blvd., Spring Hill.

When: Thursday and weekends through May 23. Shows are at 8 p.m., except Sundays at 2 p.m.

Tickets: $18, reserved seating. Box office is open 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays and an hour before each show. Call (352) 683-5113.

Note: Recommended for adult audiences.

Albee play at Stage West to resonate with suburbanites wanting to live larger 04/29/10 [Last modified: Thursday, April 29, 2010 5:43pm]

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