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Gm Playwrights Theater the Parallax Garden

Host: Lauren Bacall.

Host: Lauren Bacall.

The Parallax Garden” is a one-act play about a woman, her scarecrow and all the goofy symbolism this odd couple can conjure.

Jean Stapleton heads the cast of three in the latest A&E/General Motors theater-to-TV transfer, a fanciful drama by Canadian playwright Paddy Campbell first staged in the Great White North and taped at Gotham’s Kaufman-Astoria Studios.

Stapleton’s Emilie is a woman of a certain age with an active imagination. Curtain opens on her in her backyard shouting at unresponsive neighbors and chatting with her new scarecrow, whom she’s dressing in her departed husband’s duds.

Weird? Her son Michael (Judge Reinhold) thinks so. A literal-minded guy, he thinks she’s gone “off the deep end” and tells her so. She explains that there’s nothing weird at all about talking to a scarecrow, having his friends to dinner, sleeping with him.

Michael, who’s got his own marital problems to work out, can’t deal with her. The next to try is his recently estranged wife, Joyce (Beverly D’Angelo). “The stockbroker from hell,” Emilie calls her.

She’s a literalist too, at first, and can’t see why her mother-in-law wants to jabber away at the straw man. But soon she comes to “envy its power and its truth.”

And what power and truth might that be? None other than Imagination, Emilie’s “parallax” power. Author Campbell’s precious play is advising us that we could all do with a little fantasy, a little scarecrow in our lives.

Stapleton works hard but the thesping by the cast is uncharming. Presenter Lauren Bacall cites the playwright’s “satiric intelligence,” of which littleis in evidence here. GM Theater is a quality venue for theatrical works, but the works vary in quality.

Gm Playwrights Theater the Parallax Garden

(Tues. (13), 10-10:30 p.m. A&E)

Production: Taped by A&E, Nederlander Television & Film Prods. and General Motors Mark of Excellence. Executive producer, Gladys Nederlander; producer, Stuart Goodman; director, David Trainer; writer, Paddy Campbell.

Crew: Camera, Steve Jambeck, Lyn Noland, David Smith; editor, Rob Ortiz; production designer, Tom H. John; sound, Al Centrella; music, Brian Keane.

Cast: With: Jean Stapleton, Judge Reinhold, Beverly D'Angelo, Ron Wisniski.

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