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Star Playhouse Delights with "Social Security"

Director Fred Sprauer brings a playful Broadway production to Commack.

If recent production of Andrew Bergman’s comedy “Social Security,” directed by Fred Sprauer, proved anything, it’s that no matter how creaky a script is, well-delivered sex jokes never get old.

“Social Security” played Broadway in 1986 when it was written, with a cast that included Marlo Thomas, Ron Silver and Olympia Dukakis, under the direction of Mike Nichols. The play’s premise is simple: David and Barbara Khan, an affluent couple who own a chic Manhattan art gallery and an even more upscale apartment, are forced to care for Barbara’s elderly mother, Sophie, after Sophie’s previous caretakers, her other daughter, Trudy, and Trudy’s husband, Martin, fly to Buffalo to “rescue” their sexually adventurous daughter from college, whether she likes it or not.

In the second act, Sophie finds love, in the form of a renowned 100-year old artist named Maurice, and her life is rejuvenated. As Frank Rich deftly stated in his New York Times review, the play has shades of “Where’s Poppa?” in the first act and “Barefoot in the Park” in the second. Only not as good as either of those.

That said, Sprauer’s staging, which ran through January 23, was quite charming. The company had natural chemistry, particularly the two sets of married couples in the cast: Nick and June Damadeo as David and Barbara, and Lenny and Cooky Klein as Maurice and Sophie. Mr. Damadeo in particular found his way around each punchline, even if some of the more risqué jokes, which focused on the overt sexuality of his niece, made me uneasy. Carol A. Giorgio and Larry Katz had nice moments as Trudy and Martin, and their befuddlement as they--I kid you not-- explained a particular act of oral sex, was outrageously funny.

Most importantly, the production was pitch-perfectly paced, and aside from a short period of languish in the second act (a fault of the script, not Sprauer or the cast), the two hours zipped by rather quickly. They managed to make a case for a mediocre play, and I look forward to seeing what Star Playhouse will stage next.

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