From Aristophanes to Adam Rapp, playwrights have been getting away with murder in the name of comedy. But Doug Stone surely jumps the shark with “Sealed for Freshness,” a loathsome exercise in misogyny which he tries to pass off as satirical comedy. A canny director might have disguised the woman-hating rage fueling this play centered on a gaggle of Midwestern housewives airing their domestic grievances and baring their souls at a 1968 Tupperware party. Taking the helm himself, first-time scribe Stone unfortunately adds another layer of nastiness to his woeful work.
Stone strikes exactly the wrong comic note in the very first scene, in which 40-ish hausfrau Bonnie Kapica (Jennifer Dorr White) plaintively tries to get some loving attention from her husband Richard (Brian Dykstra). Although he’s in a rush to get to his bowling game at the Moose Lodge, this blue-collar brute does take a minute to insult his wife’s intelligence (“You’re out of your friggin’ mind”) and inform her that, after 20 years of marriage, she has lost her sexual appeal.
Hilarious, no? Well, maybe if the scene had been written by Eve Ensler. But in Stone’s ham-fisted treatment, this romantic exchange leaves blood all over the shag carpeting of Rob Odorisio’s living room set, as unkindly ugly as everything else that touches the women in this play, including their grotesque helmet hairdos.
Bonnie finds no comfort in the other “desperate” housewives who arrive for the Tupperware party, each of them a stereotype of a kind of woman men love to hate.
Jean (Nancy Hornback) is the anxious perfectionist. What a pain. Tracy Ann (Kate Vandevender) is the young airhead. Such a bimbo. Diane (Patricia Dalen) is the brittle career woman. Must be frigid.
Even by these low standards of caricature, Sinclair (J.J. Van Name) is a monster. Hugely pregnant and cackling with malice, this appalling creature flicks her vicious tongue at every woman in the room — pale substitutes though they be for the no-good men she would really like to eviscerate. If there’s any humor in this vulgar stereotype of a bitter and self-hating proto-feminist, it certainly escaped the aud at a late preview.
The only genuine amusement to be had from this misbegotten production is watching the expressions of horror on the faces of women in the house.