MARCO ISLAND — If you can’t find your mother, children or grandparents in “I’m Herbert ... and other Strangers,” you’re not looking hard enough.
The Island Players collects five vignettes of ‘60s and ‘70s relationships and lets them take off to wherever they will. Love, sex, divorce, senility are all fair game for this performance, studded with comical scenes and heart gripping realities.
Those nostalgic enough to love tie-dyed shirts and bellbottoms will find fond memories in the uncomplicated complexities of the free-love era. Jerry (Kevin Moriarty) steps into his “I’m a stud” persona to go on the prowl for his next one-night stand. This time, he may have aimed too high trying to score with Brenda (Rachel Gallentine), the girl with brains, looks and a little more.
Delving into the terrors of commitment, Mike (Scott Lilly) can’t help but find every excuse in the book not to marry Susan (Kathy O’Brien). But if patience is a virtue, Susan is a saint. She holds her tongue through an onslaught of ruinous reasoning to quell Mike’s fears and bring him back to reality. Marriage . . . it’s just going to happen.
Working dad Chuck (Joe Kelly) buries his emotions in beer and Bing Crosby as wife, Edith (Pattie Ziesig), exploits his lethargy ranting on about their children’s sex lives. Hoping to shock him into action, Edith whips herself into a frothing fit about their son’s masturbation and their daughter’s virginity.
Edith takes pride in winning her one-sided battle as Chuck agrees to her wishes, then returns to the privacy of his couch and contemplation. What Edith doesn’t know and learns too late is Chuck is having an emotional cataclysm of his own, and the wound is too tender and fresh for words.
Mama Mia! Divorce can be a dirty word in large, tight-knit families where Uncle Vinny and Aunt Camilla have been known to nearly kill each other and remain married. Richie’s (Peter Galluzzo) family history makes it tumultuous to tell his mom and pop that after six years of marriage, he wants a divorce. His parents can only imagine that he was been unfaithful, a sin his own father numbers among his own shameful transgressions.
The parents settle into separate rooms to tell their version of what makes marriage work. His mother, Bea (Judy Daye), admits that sex for her is a nasty act that must be endured for the sake of the marriage. Richie’s father reveals that his mom was his second choice, but despite that fact, the two discovered “contentment” together.
Settling into their second childhood, Herbert (Richard E. Joyce) and his third wife, Muriel (Mai Puccio), bumble through conversation in a sea smoke of memories. Both bring failed multiple relationships to their golden years, but neither can completely remember names, places, dates, destinations or their own experiences together. What a conundrum, and one that without too many cruel edges seems to make the old folks as charming and comfortable as a favorite rocking chair.
“I’m Herbert...and Other Strangers,” directed by Joyce, is scheduled to be performed Friday, Feb. 3 through Sunday, Feb. 18 in Rose History Auditorium at the Marco Island Historical Museum, 180 South Heathwood Drive. Performances are 7:30 p.m. with Sunday performances at 2:30 p.m. General admission is $18. Advance tickets can be purchased at Centennial Bank on Marco Island, the Marco Island Historical Museum Gift Shop or online at www.TheaterOnMarco.com for $20. For additional information, call The Island Players at (239) 394-0080.
Photo Caption: Towel Wringing
Bea (Judy Daye) wrings a dish towel as she describes sex with her husband in “I’m Herbert . . . and Other Strangers” during rehearsals Tuesday at Rose History Hall.