Constance Mellors (l.), Joe Nassi, Barbara Mallory
The live theatre experience is a mixed bag ranging from the most serious with plays delving into the darkest corners of human nature to the comedy of Neil Simon. Theatregoers delight in seeing the classics of Ibsen, Wilder and Shakespeare unraveling complex themes and scenarios and an actor's interpretation.
Theatre West's production of Classic Couples Counseling manages to meld the characters (or should I say characterizations) of Shakespeare with tongue in cheek, snappy dialogue delivering ninety solid minutes of fun as we encounter familiar names and scenarios.
Psychotherapist Dr. Patricia Cataldo welcomes each "classic couple" for therapy. We hear the sad tale of teenagers Romeo and Juliet, the madness of the Macbeths, the behavior issues between Kate and Petruchio, Othello's questioning of Desdemona's fidelity, and Hamlet wondering if his relationship with Desdemona will be or not to be.
Dr. Cataldo, (Constance Mellors) reprising her original role from the play's premiere in 2014, ably maneuvers her clients and their eccentricities, while suggesting tips and strategies for understanding and resolution of their troubles.
Playwright Lloyd J. Schwartz is a prolific writer/producer in TV and movies with credits that include Brady Bunch and Gilligan's Island and has produced forty-three plays many of which he authored. While the play could easily slip into farce, the talent of each of the cast members who bring their roles to life.
Director Nick McDow Musleh delivers this hilarious play, firmly grounded in the Elizabethan period. As the audience is seated, the actors are on stage, preparing for the play to begin, vocalizing, stretching, even speaking to the audience. Gradually, they find their places and the show begins. Cast members not part of one of the five scenes don masks and perform very effectively as a chorus which provides an air of authenticity to the play.
Any play is only as good as its weakest part. Theatre West delivers an outstanding production on every level. Each actor superbly brings their character to life, the director stays true to Shakespeare, Mylette Nora's costumes hit the mark and Constance Mellors serves as the perfect ringmaster for a very enjoyable theatrical experience.