Scottish playwright Douglas Maxwell accomplishes the unexpected in his one-act obscenity-laden comedy A RESPECTABLE WIDOW TAKES TO VULGARITY: he makes coarse language not only riotously funny, but also deeply moving. Its three-performance run in the third week of Tiny Dynamite’s 2014 season of A Play, A Pie and A Pint, presented in collaboration with Azuka Theatre Company, is a #$@&*!% delight!
Directed with a balance of wit and sensitivity by Allison Heishman, the two-hander could not have been more perfectly cast, with the endearing Marcia Saunders and Harry Watermeier starring as the refined widow Annabelle Love and her deceased husband’s awkward foul-mouthed working-class employee Jim Dick, who meet at the funeral and forge a quirky friendship based in profanity and its liberating expressiveness. Both are equally hilarious and poignant, as they explore the proper meaning, etymology, and grammatical usage of curse words, and employ the power of language to deal with their grief, to express the feeling of being cheated by the loss of a loved one, and to acknowledge the universal emotions that overcome all distinctions of background and class. The fine actors’ accents and demeanors characterize their socio-economic differences (“I’ve never had a hamburger,” she says), while their warm on-stage chemistry and growing camaraderie, through a series of short scenes, dissolve them.
If that weren’t more than enough for your $15 ticket price, you also get a slice of pizza and a beer (or a glass of wine, or a soft drink). This is happy-hour theater that can’t fail to make you happy. [Society Hill Playhouse, Red Room, 507 S. 8th St.] October 16-17 & 19, 2014; www.tinydynamite.org.