Olive And The Bitter Herbs @ Primary Stages through September 3

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Were you aware of the fact that there is a healthy Jewish population in New York City? Were you also aware that there are a copious amount of liberals in The Big Apple? Did you know that acting is a tough profession?

Charles Busch’s Olive and the Bitter Herbs, seeing its world premier at the fantabulous Primary Stages at 59E59 Theaters, is a two hour romp round some Jewish clichés, some obvious liberal jabbing and a MacGuffin of a mirror and an old actor’s humiliations. The two woman, three-man cast led by Marcia Jean Kurtz’s cantankerous Olive rolls round, through, up and over a 6-degrees of separation that sees almost everybody in this comedy connected to the supernatural element in Olive’s mirror. It’s mostly funny stuff, centering round some circumstances and one-liners I’m not sure would play anywhere but in New York City…if I have any criticism of this play.

Busch’s preposterous tie-in at the end is fun, seeing Richard Mazur was a treat, Kurtz is near pitch perfect, Julie Halston’s Wendy is lanky laughs and truly kinetic fun-especially when she amps-up in act two. David Garrison’s Robert is poise and class and as I expected from the little I knew of his erasable ‘Bulldog’ on Frasier, Dan Butler steals the play as the ‘beautiful’ Trey.

Olive And The Bitter Herbs is solid stuff from Busch, the playwright of Vampire Lesbians of Sodom, among others and a good night at the theater…the new York theater that is.

Olive and the Bitter Herbs by Charles Busch runs for a limited engagement through Saturday evening, September 3, 2011 at Primary Stages at 59E59 Theater (59 East 59th Street, between Park and Madison Avenues).  For more information and tickets, please visit  http://primarystages.org/oliveandthebitterherbs.

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