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'Social Security' Entertains with Comedy on Aging

Chautauqua Playhouse production pokes fun at aging, family and sex.

Sex and aging are tackled with tasteful humor by the ’s production of “Social Security”.

Absent of crass Viagra cracks, the play centers around New York art dealers, David (Wade Lucas) and Barbara (Kellie Yvonne Raines). The couple’s world is turned upside down when Barbara’s crabby mother, Sophie (Patty Thiel) comes to live with them.

Sophie previously lived with Barbara’s stiff sister and brother-in-law Martin (Jon Jackson) and Trudy (Margaret Morneau), who are traveling to Buffalo to intervene in their only daughter’s promiscuity. The college freshman told her father that she has moved in with two boys and “lives for sex now”.

It isn’t long before a prominent artist (Michael Beckett) comes to dinner and rekindles Sophie’s fire. Soon the nearly 80-year-old woman, who once confined herself to a walker and housecoat, is partaking in rendezvous with her lover, and considering running away with him to France.

When asked about her affair, Sophie says the fire dims but never dies.

“I’m still a woman, I’m still alive,” she said.

Sophie’s affair is only the first of many twists that had the audience gasping.

Humor is sprinkled throughout the play. Jabs about senior citizens dominate, but there is also an ample helping of jokes about family and marriage.

Despite a humorous tone, the play represents and earnest consideration of what it means to age in America. “Social Security” rejects the idea that the elderly are expected to act in accordance with their maturity and maintains anything is possible at any stage in life.

Kellie Yvonne Raines is charming in her debut role at Chautauqua Playhouse, as Barbara who remains levelheaded throughout the family drama that ensues. Although playing a small role, Michael Beckett is excellent in his portrayal of an eccentric, well-loved artist who steals Sophie’s heart.

Chautauqua veteran Wade Lucas, who most recently played Ray-Bud in “”, was very believable as a supportive husband caught up in the madness of his wife’s manic family. Margaret Morneau puts on a strong sour face as Barbara’s stick-in-the-mud sister. Jon Jackson, is a delight as a persnickety, socially awkward accountant. Patty Thiel entertains as Barbara's particular, yet worldly mother.

With the entire play set in David and Barbara’s New York apartment, set designers focused all their attention on a single setup. The set is a beautiful representation of an art dealer’s apartment, with prewar apartment details and carefully placed works of abstract art.

“Social Security” will play at Chautauqua Playhouse through July 17. Shows begin at 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Sunday matinees begin at 2 p.m. Tickets are $18 and $16 for students and seniors. For additional information, go to cplayhouse.org.

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Chance Harper July 11, 2011 at 12:05 AM
Wow jroots46@yahoo.com, shame on you. I was deeply disappointed and saddened to read your review. It was beyond petty and waded deep into the waters of ignorance and intolerance. This is a forum to discuss the show for better or worse. Not to broadcast your unbelievably ugly opinions about the weight of incredible performers who have dedicated amazing amounts of time, passion and energy to put on a show and bring a little light and happiness into people’s lives for free. They don’t get paid they do it because they love it. Shame on you jroots, to try and diminish that. Never mind the fact that your views and opinions of weight have absolutely zilch to do with either of the shows or the talent of the performers in question, or whether someone else would enjoy the show. Finally just because you failed to grasp the title or the concept of what “Social Security” means does not mean the title was a stretch or misleading. I found Social Security to be funny, endearing and well worth the time and ticket price. Wade Lucas’s sardonic performance was very funny and kept the energy high, while Kellie Raines’s performance of Barbara was sweet and at times loony giving an extremely nuanced and real performance. Margret Morneau’s disapproving woman on the edge portrayal was funny and in turns tragic, while John Jackson shined as her smugly boring and fussy husband.
Alexander St. James July 11, 2011 at 12:09 AM
A great show, see it while you can!
Margaret Morneau July 11, 2011 at 01:12 AM
Thank you very much! I'm happy the other comment was removed

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