Review: West End Players Guild Takes a Pill with 'Rx'

 In Culture

There’s a drug for every condition nowadays, and if there isn’t a condition for it, the drug companies will make one up. Had anyone ever heard of restless leg syndrome before they had a drug to cure it? Kate Fodor’s “Rx,” currently playing at West End Players Guild, takes a humorous look at our drug culture—the white collar kind—and turns it on its head with a dose of absurdity and a tender, highly amusing love story. If you’ve been feeling down in the dumps lately, this show might be just what the doctor ordered.

Laura Singleton and Jeff Kargus Photo by John Lamb

Laura Singleton and Jeff Kargus
Photo by John Lamb

Meena Pierotti, comfortably played by Laura Singleton, is grandly unhappy as the editor of a farm magazine, having given up being a narrative poet because of a lousy review her first book received. Ah, if only they could invent a pill that makes you happy at work. Wait, they have, and Meena signs up and gets approved as a human test subject. There she meets Phil, portrayed wonderfully by Jeff Kargus, the doctor/researcher employed by the pharmaceutical company who gives Meena her weekly checkups. He is smitten instantly, buys her a book of questionable poetry, and falls deeper and deeper for her, and she for him—or perhaps she’s attracted by the drugs.

John Lampe and Jeff Kargus Photo by John Lamb

John Lampe and Jeff Kargus
Photo by John Lamb

Singleton’s performance is charming and remarkably relaxed, and she creates a likeable character in spite of some annoying characteristics, like sneaking off to the underwear section of a department store to weep periodically. Unhappy people are a downer anyway, but Singleton manages to keep the audience on her side and simpatico. Kargus again creates a fully-realized character, and is so totally committed to this clumsy, nerdy science/type that we buy into the over-the-top character with no hesitation. He’s a pleasure to watch, and he and Singleton work very well together.

Laura Singleton and Suzanne Greenwald Photo by John Lamb

Laura Singleton and Suzanne Greenwald
Photo by John Lamb

Phil’s boss at work, Allison, played with verve by Beth Davis, loves the smell of marketing in the morning. Probably napalm too. John Lampe does an impressive job as Ed, Phil’s co-worker, as does Matt Hanify as Meena’s smooth fellow farm journal editor. Suzanne Greenwald is sweet as an elderly widow. All told, the production is an engaging tale that has the audience wondering how it’s all going to end. Do they make a heartbreak pill? Why yes. Yes they do.

Jean Heckman does credible work on the costumes, and lights by Renee Sevier-Monsey (who also directs) were up to the task. Some of the set changes (and there are quite a few of them) are a little rough, and while Sevier-Monsey as directer does a fine job drawing such good performances from her cast, the set change issue could have been fixed with some different staging or set design from Ethan Dudenhoeffer. Otherwise, it’s a job well done all around. Take two tickets and call me in the morning.

“Rx” continues at West End Players Guild through April 13. For more information, visit the West End Players Guild website.

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