Sunday, April 28, 2019

Millbrook: "Independence Day at Happy Meadows"

Laura King's sillier-by-the-moment Independence Day at Happy Meadows is playing in Millbrook, garnering plenty of laughs for its six character ensemble in a 90-minute romp. Though it could benefit from additional energetic movement, the posturing of the four geriatric women living in Happy Meadows retirement home manage to keep the action moving at a good pace.

Beset by the tedium of the retirement home, and face to face daily with recognizable personality syndromes marking advanced age, Holly [Angie Mitchell] gets a message from her ten-year-old grandson asking her to visit him on the Fourth of July; though it seems impossible, Holly and her cohorts -- spunky and outspoken Betty [Carol Majors], wheelchair bound "forgetful" Shirley [Ginger Collum], and overly polite Mary [Nancy Power] -- plan to breakout of the "home", basing their plan on the movie "The Great Escape".

Of course, there are obstacles to their plan, the most difficult is in the person of Nancy [Rae Ann Collier], the nasty and devious nurse/director of Happy Meadows, who is expecting an inspector that day who she is out to impress with the perfection of her establishment, no matter how it is actually run.

When delivery man and Nancy's sometime lover Gus [John Collier] arrives with food for a picnic Nancy has planned to influence the inspector, he gets caught up in the ladies' escape plot.

Well, there is a lot of confusion, fireworks, a can of corn, a length of rope, and other incredible comic bits that punctuate the on-stage antics; and the time passes quickly. -- The acting company [their various eccentricities and personality quirks notwithstanding] are both familiar and sympathetic. We recognize them and enjoy being in their company.

Scene changes need to be quicker to keep audience attention, but as a happy ending guarantees a temporary independence for the women, and the dialogue and characterizations so spot on, the evening spent in their company is a good one.