CLEARWATER — Just in time for the dog days of summer, West Coast Players unleashes a romantic comedy by playwright Joe Simonelli named Men Are Dogs.
Producer Kimen Mitchell calls it a "boisterous comedy that provides hilarious insight into the types of relationship patterns and love traps women create for themselves."
The play, directed by David Middleton, begins Friday and runs through Aug. 25. Tickets are $17, with group rates available.
The plot revolves around widowed therapist, Dr. Cecelia Monahan (played by Annie Murren). She runs a support group for single and divorced women.
"She tries to help her clients figure out if men are really 'dogs' or just misunderstood and helpless in their own traps and patterns," said Mitchell.
The psychologist — a bit unorthodox in her therapeutic methods — hires unsuspecting male actors to interact with her patients.
Unemployed actor Tony (Tim Rankin) interviews for the job and is happy to learn he'll be working with the ladies.
"Divorced and single, huh? And I'm the only guy? I think I'm going to like this," he says with Brooklyn swagger.
But he becomes a human punching bag during a riotous therapy session with patient Loretta (Stephanie Bell), a woman with a fetish for cops, and literary agent Madeline (Patricia Mahan), usually wooed for her connections in the industry.
Adding to the neurotic fun is Tammy Dalton as Allison, a ditzy hairdresser with a daddy complex, and Donna Young as nurse Jane, whose dates consist of sponge baths and scrotal exams.
"I think men will see the humor of it all," says director Middleton.
Of course, the grieving Cecelia has her own issues to deal with, not to mention her thrice-divorced mother, Rose (Annette Delligatti), who has just moved in upstairs and enjoys doling out advice.
"In my day we didn't have therapy to deal with men," says Rose. "We just took a Valium and hoped for the best."
The plot takes a twist when Cecelia becomes smitten with Bob, the delivery man, played by attorney Jay Morgan.
Murren said her favorite scene is when the two go out and she gets a bit tipsy.
"In most roles I am cast as the stalwart, always wearing a bun or pearls," she says. "Here I get to show my softer, gigglier, flirtier side."
Morgan predicts audiences will find the play entertaining.
"It's a fun play, not too deep. People should expect to laugh a lot," he says.