Theatre 40 of Beverly Hills concludes their 2018-19 season with John Patrick’s A BAD YEAR FOR TOMATOES, a comedy of errors about an actress who settles in a rural home in New England in order to write her autobiography, and to use a creative method to fend off the locals who tend to get in her way.
Diana Angelina is Myra Marloew, an actress that’s been around for some time, usually seen on various TV programs. With much of her life already behind her, she decides to get away from Hollywood for a while to settle in a home located in Beaver Haven, Vermont to compose the story of her life. Her long time agent Tom Lamont (David Datz) makes sure she is comfortable in this home where she can have the peace and quiet she needs to conduct her writings, as well as perhaps doing a bit of gardening on the side. The moment she arrives, she is visited by a few neighbors, Cora Gump (Amanda Conlon) and Reba Harper (Ann Ryerson), who serve as an impromptu neighborhood welcoming committee. Then there is the eccentric Willa Mae Wilcox (Leda Siskind) that is paranoid with her surroundings, as well as with Myra. Rounding up the group is local farmer Piney (Jeffrey Winner) that offers to perform farm-type stuff for Myra from chopping wood to selling her manure. Since Myra can’t get any peace with this bunch, she creates a sister called Sally, depicted as a borderline homicidal maniac that’s locked up in an upstairs bedroom while wielding a mean looking pair of scissors. This new character only leads toward further complications with her friendly neighbors where Myra’s goal in writing her life story becomes a new life story into itself!
This stage piece written by playwright John Patrick is a play that is humorous in nature and concept using the characters depicted to enhance the laugh cycles as it moves in a mellow yet steady pace. The characters themselves, especially the ones that are the “yankees” of the bunch, are the most likable of them all. They are seen as being cartoonish using a method lifted off from a sitcom. That concept is what makes this play worth all its while. All of the supporting cast members plays off the lead protagonist, an actress that is humble in terms of someone living and working in Tinseltown. Larry Eisenberg directs this stage bunch performing among one another to keep up with the humor factor this program offers.
And staying along with the New England flavor to it all is Jeff Rack’s set design that sports a lot of that so-called early American decor that was once the rage back in the day.
Also seen within the cast of characters is William Joseph Hill as a local sheriff that also speaks in that east coast “twang” the other locals dictate within their speech patterns.
It may be A BAD YEAR FOR TOMATOES, but it is a good year for Theatre 40 as this troupe is set to begin their fifty-fourth season with six unique plays that consist of three world premieres, two American premieres, and a pair of Los Angeles premieres. There will be comedy, drama, and all points in between.