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Coach House’s ‘Social Security’ ‘a good time’

11/22/2012 - West Side Leader
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By David Ritchey

Richard Figge and Maureen Estelle Guerin-Johnson star in Coach House Theatre’s “Social Security.”
Photo courtesy of Coach House Theatre
WEST AKRON — The issue of Social Security was much of the focus of the November General Election. Now, with the election ended and votes counted, “Social Security” has taken the Coach House Theatre stage in a warm and funny look at mature love.

The story deals with two sisters, Barbara (Dede Klein) and Trudy (Holly Humes).

Each has a problem living with their mother, Sophie (Maureen Estelle Guerin-Johnson).

Trudy and her husband, Martin (Mark Stoffer), are having trouble with their college student daughter. They want to move Sophie into Barbara and her husband’s house. Barbara and her husband, David (Richard Worswick), are childless but have big, important careers.

The agreement is struck, and Sophie makes the move to Barbara and David’s home. At a dinner party hosted by Barbara and David, Sophie meets Maurice (Richard Figge), a famous artist. Love blossoms and the plot thickens.

Playwright Andrew Bergman wrote a humorous, yet tender, script. Director Nancy Cates caught Bergman’s style and helped her cast this comedy for laughs and warmth.

According to a program note, “‘Social Security’ taps into ...  the mistake of underestimating the senior set due to pre-conceived ideas, stereotypes and bad habits. … ‘Social Security’ shatters the presumption of decline by celebrating the ‘joie de vivre’ of lovers at 18, 98 and all ages in between.”

Klein and Worswick are at the top of their comedic abilities. Klein seems to play physical comedy more stylishly than we’ve seen it played in a long time. Worswick tosses off jokes and naughty punch lines with the grace of a pie in the face. And we wouldn’t be surprised to see Worswick send a pie sailing at his stage mother-in-law.

Guerin-Johnson doesn’t start to work her stage magic until the second act. But she makes up for having been left in the car during the first act. Guerin-Johnson performs the first strip tease on the Coach House stage. 

Later in the act, Guerin-Johnson makes an entrance wearing a bright-red pants suit and a large black hat. She’s stylish and ready to set France on its romantic toes.

Sophie’s character illustrates what good theater is about — a change in character. She goes from being a dumpy old lady with a walker to being a lovable, loving, stylish woman, who dumps the walker for a sophisticated artist.

Guerin-Johnson is excellent as she lets her character grow and meet the challenges of the time. She doesn’t care about her age — she cares about having a good time.

And the audience has a good time in the company of these six fine actors.

The show runs through Dec. 16. For tickets, call 330-434-7741.


David Ritchey has a Ph.D. in communications and is a professor of communications at The University of Akron. He is a member of the American Theatre Critics Association.

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