Thoughts & Musings

Wild, wacky, poignant ‘Harold & Maude’at 2nd Story

It’s goofy. It’s fun. It’s escapism at its best.

by Don Fowler, Johnston Sunrise
  • 9th July 20169/07/16
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Colin Higgins’ wild, wacky, but poignant cult film about a May/December romance was turned into a stage play that was a hit in London in the ’70s but had trouble finding an audience in New York in the ’80s. Perhaps it was a bit too over-the-top for the “sophisticated” American audience.

The opening scene quickly gets the attention of the maid, and the audience, as we watch what appears to be a young man’s body hanging in a doorway.

Harold, you see, likes to shock people by faking suicide. First the maid, then three potential dates brought to his home by his wealthy, self-centered mother, who has caught on to his theatrics.

Is there any hope for Harold, who spends his time attending funerals for people he doesn’t even know?

The answer is yes, and her name is Maude, a 79-year-old eccentric woman he meets at one of those funerals and who teaches him how to let loose, enjoy life and discover the meaning of love.

Director Kevin Broccoli (he’s everywhere, he’s everywhere) keeps the pace faster than a speeding bullet, loaded with lots of physical humor, and as wacky as the characters.

This is high camp, folks, filled with surprises and providing both chuckles and guffaws, all leading to a poignant conclusion filled with life’s valuable lessons.

Welcome back to the Rhode Island stage, Evan Kinnane, a young man we watched grow up on the 2nd Story stage nearly nine years ago, who is now studying his craft at the Boston Conservatory. We knew back then that the young thespian had what it takes, and, watching his interpretation of Harold’s bizarre character, we are sure were right.

Kinnane plays opposite Isabel O’Donnell as Maude, with both showing perfect timing and making the audience feel that unusual connection between them.

Paula Faber has caught the essence of a frustrated mother whom nothing shocks…until she later learns of her son’s intentions.

Valerie Westgate is a scream as Harold’s three potential dates, making each young lady unique and hysterically funny. F. William Oakes is equally hysterical as the priest who is overwhelmed with Maude and Harold’s antics.

Charles Lafond and Jen Michaels play five additional characters, changing quickly and often into Ron Cesario’s costumes.

The play is performed in the round in two acts, covering an hour and 45 breathless minutes on a stage painted with brightly colored flowers.

It’s goofy. It’s fun. It’s escapism at its best.

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