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Connecticut Theater

"Viagara Falls"
Seven Angels Theatre, Waterbury

It had to happen. Some one was bound to write a comedy about Viagra. And now, the funniest, cleverest bit about this show may well be its title—“Viagara Falls.” The show is enjoying its New England premiere at Waterbury’s Seven Angels Theatre.

Would that “Viagara Falls” lived up to its name! But the play, to cash in on its premise, should be sharper, wittier, more hard-hitting. As of now, it is only sporadically amusing.

Predictably, this is a tale about two men, widowed, in their ‘70s, who seek to recapture the sexual excitement of earlier years—with the help of the wonder drug. The men are nearby neighbors and old buddies whose friendship dates back to their military days. Charlie, the little, fat, bald one, wants to celebrate his birthday by bringing in prostitutes, but Moe, the tall, gaunt one, is reluctant. It takes the entire first act for Charlie (played by Lou Cutell) to convince Moe (Robert Pine).

The first act sets up the premise, has its comic moments, and builds tension as we await the arrival of Jacqueline Tempest (actress Sara Ballantine), owner of Pussycats for Older But it is the second act, when the luscious lady finally appears, stating that she charges one hundred dollars for the first hour, that the show gets a needed jolt. There are indeed delightful moments with this temporary ménage a trois. Under Don Crichton’s direction and casting, the humor becomes both visual and verbal. Little Charlie just reaches up in height to the lady’s breasts, and in one scene he is buried in the cleft, while his buddy shuffles about.

The humor is coarse, open, with frequent references to bodily parts and bodily functions (sexual and otherwise). Nothing is left to imagination in these exchanges. We have no argument with coarse humor if it serves the play, which in “Viagara Falls,” it does, but only intermittently.

A dark underlying theme (which cannot be revealed here) helps the play, giving it more substance. But it is the performances which save the day, outstripping the material itself—with all three performers right on target. Cutell is particularly appealing as little Charlie, as he attempts to move back into an earlier time of his life. But Pine as Moe provides a good foil, and Ballantine is consistently decorative, funny, and endearing.

In all, this piece, co-written by Cutell with Joao Machado, could well benefit from an overhauling to tighten and sharpen the text.

-- Irene Backalenick
Mar. 18, 2007

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