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Flamingo Court

In the program for "Flamingo Court," scribe Luigi Creatore acknowledges that much of the material in these three short plays originated in earlier works he wrote for the Boca Raton Community Theater in Florida.

Cast:
Angelina - Anita Gillette Marie - Lucy Martin Dominic - Jamie Farr Clara - Anita Gillette Arthur - Jamie Farr Harry Rossoff - Jamie Farr Mark Seagal - Herbert Rubens Charity Pipick - Lucy Martin Walter Pipick - Joe Vincent Chi Chi - Anita Gillette

In the program for “Flamingo Court,” scribe Luigi Creatore acknowledges that much of the material in these three short plays originated in earlier works he wrote for the Boca Raton Community Theater in Florida. No wonder that the pieces feel cobbled together, and that their hammy, disconnected jokes are aimed squarely at the retirement set. 

Adrift in almost unstructured scripts, stars Jamie Farr and Anita Gillette do the best they can. Playing different characters in each vignette, all set in a Florida apartment complex, they at least manage to distinguish one dotty senior from the next. 

Gillette is especially charming as a widow-with-a-secret in “Angelina,” the first playlet, and as an unconventional prostitute in “Harry,” the third segment. Her impish energy makes it easier to take this entire enterprise less seriously.

In fact, the production’s breeziness is all that keeps it from imploding. Set designer James Youmans has created an apartment unit with sand-colored walls, a generic kitchen nook and  a sofa upholstered with a pastel-colored leaves design. It’s such an over-the-top rendering of a retirement community that it becomes an enjoyable joke. 

Similarly, costumer Carol Sherry puts Farr in ridiculous old man outfits. In “Harry,” thesp plays an octogenarian who doesn’t want to leave his money to his shrewish daughter, and his pants and socks are hitched so high they could swallow him.

It would be nice, however, if director Steven Yuhasz occasionally played for subtlety. Instead, he pushes his actors to the biggest, broadest line readings. At one point, in a minor role as a hearing aid salesman in “Harry,” Herbert Rubens fake-laughs so hard that he literally rises up off the couch and crashes back down again. 

And for those who are keeping score: Yes, “Harry” does involve an old man, his daughter, a hearing aid salesman and a hooker. But Creatore — best known for co-writing songs like “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” –meanders away from this setup. At the last minute, he simply drops his original plot in favor of a new story about a flatulent ghost. The mind boggles trying to link the two halves of the narrative. 

The same thing happens in “Angelina.” In the span of 30 minutes, we’re hit with murder, lies, a faked death and something about a soap opera. 

But the biggest groan comes from the middle piece, “Clara,” which tries to be a serious treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. Instead, it ends with a ridiculous climax involving a handgun. If there’s one thing this apartment complex can’t handle, it’s an attempt at high drama.

Flamingo Court

New World Stages; 350 seats; $72 top

Production: A Theater 21 and Carolyn Rossi Copeland presentation of three plays in two acts by Luigi Creatore. Directed by Steven Yuhasz.

Creative: Sets, James Youmans; costumes, Carol Sherry; lighting, Herrick Goldman; sound, David A. Arnold; production stage manager, Eileen F. Haggerty. Opened July 31, 2008. Reviewed July 30. Running time: 1 HOUR, 50 MIN.  ANEGELINA CLARA HARRY

Cast: Angelina - Anita Gillette Marie - Lucy Martin Dominic - Jamie Farr Clara - Anita Gillette Arthur - Jamie Farr Harry Rossoff - Jamie Farr Mark Seagal - Herbert Rubens Charity Pipick - Lucy Martin Walter Pipick - Joe Vincent Chi Chi - Anita Gillette

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