Review: ‘An Act of Love’

XM Radio

TV scripter David Landsberg has transported his extensive sitcom experience ("The Cosby Show," "John Larroquette Show") to the stage with mixed results.

TV scripter David Landsberg has transported his extensive sitcom experience (“The Cosby Show,” “John Larroquette Show”) to the stage with mixed results. Chronicling the tribulations of a female-challenged insurance salesman, “An Act of Love” jumps from one comedic setup to another without much logic, character development or a thematic throughline. Fortunately, helmer Casey Stangl and a facile, stage-worthy ensemble provide the proceedings with a captivating veracity.

Landsberg exploits the well-worn TV device of near-caricature family dysfunction as the basis for this meandering legiter. Set entirely within the spacious digs — impressively wrought by Keith Mitchell — of Peter Sandusky (Timothy Horner), the action follows the hapless protagonist as he attempts to go on his first date since the recent breakup of his brief marriage.

Impeding his progress are wayward younger sister Julia (Hedy Burress), who needs a place to crash, and his narcissistic failed-actress mother (Susan Sullivan), who has an unrelenting need to communicate how useless her children are, face to face.

Stangl infuses laudably honest interactions and crisp pacing into the seemingly random scenes. The director’s efforts enable the ensemble to pull off such awkward devices as Peter writing a script and hiring his mother to perform the role of a “loving mother,” to an audience composed of two total strangers: Peter’s blind date, Maureen (Beth Kennedy), and his mother’s cab driver, Vanoush (Jay Harik).

When the play acting device is summarily dropped, the cast smoothly transitions to the next arbitrary thematic moment, the sudden introduction of Julia’s equally wayward boyfriend Darwin (Lovensky Jean-Baptiste).

Horner is dead-on as the socially underachieving Peter, manically attempting to dodge the plethora of feminine daggers being thrown at him. His Peter emphatically communicates his last-ditch stand to take control of his life.

Sullivan’s scenery-chewing mother and Burress’ relentlessly depressed Julia make the most of their opportunities as the parent and sister who seem to exist only to make Peter’s life miserable.

The highlight of the production is the hilarious perf of acclaimed yockmeister Kennedy as the issues-plagued Maureen. Kennedy brings to life an outrageous, life-challenged young woman who is worthy of a sitcom all her own.

Harik’s Vanoush and Jean-Baptiste’s Darwin add much-needed vitality during their brief turns onstage.

An Act of Love

Falcon Theater; 99 seats; $37.50 top


A Falcon Theater presentation of a play in two acts by David Landsberg. Directed by Casey Stangl.


Sets, Keith Mitchell; costumes, Kathy Mann; lighting, Nick McCord; sound, David Beaudry; production stage manager, Deirdre Murphy. Opened, reviewed April 4, 2008. Runs through April 27. Running time: 1 HOUR, 45 MIN.


Peter Sandusky - Timothy Horner Mother - Susan Sullivan Julia Sandusky - Hedy Burress Maureen - Beth Kennedy Vanoush - Jay Harik Darwin - Lovensky Jean-Baptiste
Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 0

Leave a Reply

No Comments

Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

More Legit News from Variety