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Review: 'Rx' by Kate Fodor at Dreamcatcher Rep in Summit, New Jersey

Dreamcatcher, the professional Resident Acting Company based in Summit, is currently presenting the New Jersey premiere of Kate Fodor’s somewhat dark romantic comedy "Rx.' The play is an excellent satirical take on the pharmaceutical industry, however, the high entertainment level it delivers is in large part due to the contributions of the director Laura Ekstrand, and the exceptional talent of the resident performers led by Jessica O'Hara-Baker, with Noreen Farley, Dave Maulbeck, Janet Sales and Jason Szamreta. "Rx" is making its NJ debut after its successful 2012 Off-Broadway run at Primary Stages. It was originally nutured at Premiere Stages at Kean University.

Dreamcatcher's 'Rx' poster
Steven McIntyre

In "Rx," Jessica O'Hara-Baker has a beautiful star-turn as Meena Pierotti, managing editor of Piggeries, American Cattle and Swine Magazine. Depressed? Hate her job? You betcha, with a purple passion. Any way to change her attitude? A major pharmaceutical company, Schmidt Pharma, thinks they have the answer.... a new, untested drug that promises complete job satisfaction. It also would, of course, mean an unending sales stream for the drug company. In contrast, the company has stopped testing a "heartache" pill since one pill is all that is needed for a cure.

Meena enrolls in the test program that is administered by researcher Dr. Phil Gray, played by the marvelous, resident lead comedian, Dave Maulbeck. Overseeing Gray is the test unit's super aggresive manager Allison Hardy. Hardy sees this assignment as her super fast track to senior management at Schmidt Pharma. Janet Sales, one of the co-founders of Dreamcatcher, is perfect as the (aspiring) high powered corporate executive.

Meena finds direction from an older widow, Francis, who she meets during her frequent tear-filled absences from her desk. To say more about the circumstances of their chats falls in the "spoiler" category. Suffice to say, the remarkable Noreen Farley, the company's resident senior, provides some of the best comedy (and touching) moments in her unscheduled meetings with Meena. Farley, we should note, had a marvelous star-turn in Dreamcatcher's "Blood, a comedy" three seasons ago. This past October, we saw another star-turn from a company member, Harriet Trangucci in "The Other Place." Now, it is Jessica O'Hara-Baker who shines so impressively in "Rx."

The other excellent cast member, who covers three roles, Simon, Meena's magazine boss; Richard, a Schmidt Pharma marketing executive; and Ed, a Schmidt Pharma researcher, is Jason Szamreta. Dreamcatcher regulars will surely remember Jason from last season's original play by Laura Ekstrand, "The Neighborhood," and the touching "Next Fall" with Scott McGowan.

The play runs just under two hours, including one intermission, and is cleverly staged via a series of blackouts. Simple props serve effectively as an office, department store, examining room and a bedroom. Director Ekstrand's production team includes Zach Pizza who designed the lighting; Lindsay Jones the sound; Jeff Knapp sound engineer; Danielle Constance props and Laura Ekstrand costumes. Stage manger is Amy Hadam with an assist from Alex Schuetz. The managing director of the Dreamcatcher Repertory Theatre Company is Steven McIntyre. Laura Ekstrand is the artistic director and co-founder.

Reviewed by Rick Busciglio February 16, 2014

Rx will run at Dreamcatcher through Sunday, March 2. Performances are Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights at 8:00 p.m., and Sundays at 2:00 p.m. Tickets range from $20-$35, with special rates for subscribers and groups. Purchase tickets online at www.dreamcatcherrep.org or by calling Brown Paper Tickets at 1-800-838-3006.

Performances are at The Oakes Center, located at 120 Morris Avenue in Summit. Parking is available in the lot behind the theatre on Ashwood Avenue and at the Summit Recreation Center on Morris Avenue. The facility is wheelchair accessible. Assistive Listening devices for the hearing impaired and advance large print scripts are available by prior arrangement. To purchase tickets or for information on any of Dreamcatcher Repertory Theatre's programs, visit www.dreamcatcherrep.org or contact Dreamcatcher Repertory Theatre at 908-514-9654.