nytheatre.com review by Lisa Ferber
July 29, 2008
Flamingo Court is a series of three short plays set in a South Florida apartment complex for senior citizens. It is written by Luigi Creatore, and stars Jamie Farr, Anita Gillette, as well as Lucy Martin, Herbert Rubens, and Joe Vincent.
This is a lively and well-made production involving the romances, joys, surprises, family problems, as well as physical and mental challenges of being a certain age. Its two comedic acts contain a sitcom-like vibrancy and accessibility; sandwiched between these is a more serious one that is handled with skill and subtlety. The show, under the smooth direction of Steven Yuhasz, takes place on a well-designed set by James Youmans, replicating the cozy and colorful floral decor of a Florida retirement community.
In "Angelina," Farr plays Dominic (quite well, and with a warmth that clearly reaches the audience, even with an inconsistent quasi-Italian accent), who has the hots for Angelina (Gillette). The only problem is, Angelina is married. Or so we think. We quickly find out that Angelina has been lying about having a husband—whom she says is too sick to get out of bed—because she didn't want to look bad to the other members of the complex. What follows is along the lines of sitcom and French farce, as we watch Gillette and Farr struggle with just how much to reveal. The skit is an updated Love, American Style—a show Gillette appeared on back in the day—and 100% fun.
"Clara" caught me off guard, as I'd read about this show being billed as three comedies. In this, Farr plays a husband who has to tell his wife (Gillette) that today is the day he is taking her to live in a nursing home. Of course she doesn't want to go, even though she is losing her memory and accidentally putting her shoes in the freezer. This is done so well, in the writing and performance. It could have been heavy-handed or sappy and it never is; instead, we experience the pain of what is inevitable for so many people at a certain point. The wife's denial of needing to go to the home, and how she ultimately handles it, leave one touched.
"Harry," the final installment, is my least favorite. Farr plays Harry, a fellow who orders a visit by a hearing aid salesman Mark Seagal (Rubens) just so he can have some company. Also included are Harry's children, Charity Pipick (heh heh) played by Lucy Martin, and her husband Walter Pipick (Vincent). Charity is always checking Harry's closet, because she is convinced a secret is hidden there, so to punish her for this, Farr repeatedly passes gas in the closet. In fact, this skit has many a fart joke. Many. Harry is convinced Charity just wants his money; so there is plenty of angry-family stuff here. Things liven up when Mark gets Harry a prostitute, and this is where Gillette really shines. In a big blond wig and gold pants, she brings color and joy to the stage in this otherwise somewhat cheaply written sketch.
Flamingo Court is not packed with zingers, its beauty lies in its plots, themes, and execution, but a couple particularly funny lines are: When Harry asks Mark to get him the prostitute, Mark says, "For chrissakes, you're 89 years old, you shouldn't be running around with a hooker!" and Harry responds, "I'm not gonna be running around with her—I can barely walk!" And when Dominick still is under the belief that his beloved Angelina is married, he says to her best friend Marie, "I want to get on my knees and ask God to take these thoughts out of my mind. On the other hand it is God who gave me this mind, and it is he who gave me these thoughts."