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A CurtainUp Review

Dear Prudence
By Jenny Sandman

It's not often a play opens with a naked woman riding a man, both screaming in ecstasy. It's also not often that said man then expresses weariness with their constant sex, and yearns for a deeper, non-sexual connection. But such is the world of Dear Prudence, featuring a loveable nymphomaniac, her patient roommates, and her, er, conquests.

Prudence may not be a true nymphomaniac, but she does love sex, and has it often. Fortunately, her roommates, Haley (a lawyer) and Rose (a true Italian from "da Braanx") put up with it all, even the screaming at 3 AM. When the play opens, Pru is having an argument with her more regular paramour, Dick, who is always waiting in the wings when nothing else (no one else, rather) pans out. Dick has wearied of their arrangement, and Prudence is upset-until she gets a letter from her one true love, Cole, who lives in London. The letter gets her so worked up that she sleeps with the refrigerator repairman. Unbeknownst to her, he has a heart condition in addition to a full dose of Viagra-and promptly dies beneath her. Prudence must then dispose of the body before Cole arrives.

But, predictably, that's not all. The refrigerator man is nephew to a Mafia bagman, and Rose knows his wife. It falls to Rose to inform the widow and keep her from enacting some sort of mob revenge upon them. Dick comes over to help, and between all of their various machinations, they are able to get rid of the body and avert a crisis before Cole's arrival.

Dear Prudence is billed as a lighthearted sex comedy, and it is. Too lighthearted, in fact. It has a paper-thin plot, only partially bolstered by the Mafia, Bronx, and Italian jokes. There are quite a few sex jokes, as well, and a few tired puns on Dick's name, but they're not enough to disguise the basic lack of story. Consequently, it feels overwritten, and the pace drags. However, Kristin Stewart Chase is a nimble, if facile, Prudence, and performs her sex scenes with gusto. Her comic timing is a little slow, however, and she should stop playing to the audience so much.

Garth T. Mark plays all the men, and is quite a versatile (and, dare I say it, flexible) representative of his gender. He and Chase have a very tender and comfortable chemistry, which lends an interesting dynamic to the story. Lynn Antunovich is Rose, the roommate with a Bronx accent so thick you could cut it with a knife; it's a bit stereotyped, but her performance is quite funny. Jerusha Klemperer as Haley is the most grounded of the bunch. The set is a perfect reincarnation of a mint-green Upper East Side cramped share; the music is a bit bouncy, but fits the mood.

Hefti is a promising writer, and Dear Prudence is a promising comedy. It's not quite there yet, but it's a good start.

Dear Prudence
WrittenBy Susan Kathryn Hefti
Directed by Rosemary Katherine Andress
Cast: With Kristin Stewart Chase, Lynn Antunovich, Jerusha Klemperer, Natasha Piletich, Garth T. Mark and Jim Conroy
Set Design by David Swayze
Costume Design by Kevin C. Hucke
Lighting Design by Marcus Doshi
Sound Design by Kai Harada
Rattlestick Theatre, 224 Waverly Place
212-206-1515; tickets $15
3/30/03-4/20/03; opening 3/30/03
Thursday through Saturday at 8, Sunday at 7
Running time: 1:50, with one intermission
Reviewed by Jenny Sandman based on March 29th performance

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