By Karen Isaacs
Seven Angels Theatre is presenting the Second Chance, a lightweight piece by comedy writer Mike Vogel through April 29 that is geared for baby-boomers and their children.
Jack, is a 77-year-old widower living alone in a NYC apartment. His son, Larry, is concerned about several recent incidents that point to Jack not really being safe living alone. He has left the stove on several times, not taken medications for his angina, and just attacked a grocery delivery person.
Larry has found an assisted living place that has room for Jack; after some disagreements and an arm wrestling contest, Jack agrees to try it for a week.
Once there, he is pleased to learn that there are four women for every man. In fact, Violet, a 70-year old resident is soon in his room, being very friendly. Things are looking up. He also meet Chet, another resident who wants the women, particularly the “young ones” to himself; he evidently means Malka, an attractive younger woman who is on the staff. Malka will give shoulder massages, etc. and seems to like to flirt. She is a single mother from Eastern Europe.
Can you predict what will happen? You may think you can, but Vogel has avoided the expected at least some of the time. It’s one of the reasons that the play is so enjoyable.
Soon Jack is dancing up a storm and making out with Violet to the despair of the unseen Blanche, another resident. While Chet may not like someone moving in on his territory, he can accept Violet preferring Jack. But when Jack becomes friendly with Malka, (Jack,a former teacher, helps her son who is 8), Chet is enraged.
Larry is happy his dad is fine; after all he is paying $5,000 a month for it. Yet the talk of sex and Viagra is a little disconcerting to him Jack is also pushing Larry to “find a nice girl,” yet also asks him if he is gay.
Son and Dad have some baggage. Larry views Jack as having been a distant, unloving parent. Jack admits that while he was devoted and faithful to his wife, soon into the marriage, he had realized it was a mistake.
In addition, the facility has been sold and conditions are deteriorating. While Jack may briefly entertain the idea of Malka, he realizes he is too old for her. She “needs a nice man.” His relationship with Violet also goes through many ups and downs.
This may not be Neil Simon, but Vogel has given us a well-rounded portrait of an aging man who must confront his current condition, the reality of how he lived his life and hurt both his son and himself, and his fear of both change and the future.
Paul D’Amato does an excellent job in filling in all the dimensions of Jack. Marina Re who played Violet in last year’s off-Broadway production is adept at giving us more than just Violet’s surface aggressiveness. While not thoroughly dealt with in the play – a failing of it – she lets know that beneath the brash and apparently happy surface, there is some residual deep hurts and regrets. Amanda Kirstin Nichols, who also was in the NYC production, plays Malka. This is a difficult role, for you are never sure of her motivations: is she a gold-digger? Just a “nice” person? Or what? Nichols does the best she can with the role that seems so central but so sketchy.
It’s nice to see Warren Kelly back on the stage in Connecticut as Chet — the cock of the walk who is not happy at Jack moving in on his territory. Again the role is surface and there is little for Kelly to work with in terms of showing us more about Chet.
Larry, the son, is played well by Jack Lafferty. He is restrained and contained but you can guess that there is deep emotions underneath it all.
Director Russell Treyz has done a good job at keeping the plot moving and letting the laughs land.
It may not be a great play but Vogel’s use of the unexpected and the fine cast, make it enjoyable entertainment.
For tickets, contact Seven Angels Theatreor call 203-757-4676.