Saturday, October 26, 2019

Quiet Enjoyment by Richard Curtis, NY Real Estate dramedy to November 3rd!





Quiet Enjoyment by Richard Curtis
Directed by Marcus Gualberto
October 18 to November 3rd, Playroom Theater

If real estate is God in New York, it rules few neighborhoods as ostentatiously as the Upper East Side, the zipcode of landed wealth; bejeweled wives, hipster mistresses, and much real Chanel. Perhaps less fashionable these days than Downtown's arty tech money but for durable property value--no contest.

In Quiet Enjoyment Richard Curtis takes on a ritual of this God, a "closing" on a 5 million dollar penthouse, which goes farcically wrong. Directed with sly humor by Marcus Gualberto, the transfer of a co-op between husband and wife becomes a contest of "Karma", also the name of the husband's mistress with a mission to disrupt.. As played by Megan Simard, Karma's a cosmic goldigger, whose sexual power, divinely derived from Kundalini yoga, makes real sparks.

Her foil is not the betrayed wife Juliana (Jamie Lee Kearns) being compensated by the property at zero cost,but legal associate, Meredith Cudlip (Samantha Mercado Tudda). Mercado Tudda's Cudlup, is the aspiring soul of this proceeding. Earnestly, compulsively she enacts the sacred ritual of much legal paper. With hilarious self-control, she invests the signing with a solemnity for the legal system and her own future. Her martial arts maneuvers, stunningly choreographed by Ruth Guimera, are akin to a palace guard in a Samurai movie.

Jaime Lee Kearn's Juliana, entitled and neglected, succeeds as a poignant straight woman, unappreciated for the value she's added to her husband's life. As beneficiary, she might seem ridiculous as the "wronged" wife--but she realilistically fears eviction!  Kris Paredes as Dana, Juliana's sister and lawyer, appears all about sisterly protection.  Paredes plays her as both vulnerable and a force to be reckoned with.

The women in Curtis' dramedy seem defensive with good cause. Their male antagonists, Peter (Mark A. Daly) and Bimsky (Mario Claudio) wear male privilege like a second skin. Peter, the moneyed white male with mysterious and perhaps disastrous business in the Cayman Islands, is played with madcap befuddlement by Daly. Bimsky, an outrageous "natural" man, a substitute for Peter's lawyer,
is marvelously played with a sense of truth and embarassment as he revels in his physical ailments and appetites.

The deux a machina in this cauldron is Paula Gates, who plays both Tammy, Peter's Assistant, and Martha, Meredith's boss, head of the lawfirm. Without her, the play could not go on or end. And she's played as a kind of comic anti-goddess, a relief in the churning activity. Quiet Enjoyment may be a legal right of a lease holder, but there's no guarantees...

S.W.

 Mark Daly, Jaime Lee Karns
 Megan Simard
 Samantha Mercado Tudda, Mario Claudio, Simard
 Simard, Claudio, Kris Paredes
Closing

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