The House of Blue Leaves
By John Guare
Reviewed by Dan Verity
I have been anxiously anticipating Palm Beach Dramawork’s production of The House of Blue Leaves ever since it was announced last year. You see, I was on the sound crew in my senior year at my alma mater Sayville High School’s production of the same back in 1978. Over the years, I remembered the trials and tribulations of Artie and Bunny and Bananas. Seeing this particular production brought back a lot of fond memories of those times.
The stage is set in Artie and Bananas’ very modest apartment in 1965 Queens, New York. Artie, a mediocre song writer and singer, aspires to move to California and make it big in show business. His girlfriend, Bunny, plays Artie’s heartstrings like a Stradivarius. Bunny encourages Artie to ring up an old friend now a showbiz icon in Los Angeles in hopes of getting her, er uh, his big break. Meanwhile, Artie is still married to and living with poor Bananas, an unhinged, post suicide mess. All this while the Pope makes a visit to New York to address the United Nations about ending the war in Vietnam. Enter an AWOL son Ronnie, three nuns saved from a rooftop, a deaf actress, a forlorn showbiz icon and the second act takes on a dark madcap quality.
Bruce Linser expertly portrays the forlornly frustrated, yet oddly hopeful, Artie Shaughnessy. Vanessa Morosco nails the part of Bunny, the exuberant lipstick blonde with the New Yawk accent. Watch Elena Maria Garcia’s body movements as the childish Bananas. Just watching her made me laugh. Austin Carroll (Ronnie Shaughnessy), Margery Lowe (Corrinna Stroller), Elizabeth Dimon (Head Nun), Irene Adjan (Second Nun), Krystal Millie Valdez (Little Nun), Peirre Tannous (Military Policeman), Timothy Bowman (Orderly) and Jim Ballard (Billy Einhorn) round out the ensemble nicely under the very capable direction of J. Barry Lewis.
The House of Blue Leaves is a dark comedy, and it has its darkness. But, be prepared to chuckle and laugh out loud. This final production of the 2018-2019 season, proves that Palm Beach Dramaworks never fails to disappoint. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, this is my favorite theatre in South Florida! This intimate award-winning 218-seat theater often sells out. Don’t worry about getting the perfect seat. They’re all great with perfect views of the large stage. Hearing assist devices are available and the theater is very accessible to all. PBD’s adult and children’s programs have delighted and enriched the surrounding community since its opening in 2000.
There’s no excuse for not advantage of the amazing talent and beautiful theaters we are so fortunate to have in South Florida. Get off the couch, turn off the TV, shut down your cell phones and head over to Palm Beach Dramaworks, 201 Clematis Street, West Palm Beach. Parking is abundant and very close by. Call the box office at (561) 514-4042, or go to www.PalmBeachDramaworks.ORG. The House of Blue Leaves runs until Sunday, June 2. Ticket prices are very reasonable. Treat yourself!
A Blast from the Past!
Sayville High School 1978
Sayville, Long Island, New York