Star rating: 4 out of 5
The door leading from the street opened into a small cramped room with about seven chairs on the corresponding wall. There was a shelf alongside the opposite wall with bottled water, candy and a jar for donations. A few feet ahead was a modest table and chair and beyond it, my entry to the pleasant surprise about to engross me for the next two hours.
The living room setting produced Rachel, an attractive, well-kept, 60ish year old woman sitting on a couch.
She is joined by Jake, also in his 60s but a bit arthritic, emerging from an imaginary bedroom from the rear of the brightly lit stage. It is the morning after their first date, a match made through an online dating service.
In a tease of a conversation between the two, it is clear that Rachel was once a flirtatious young woman. Jake, on the other hand, impressed me as one of the good guys in his heyday, committed to having just one girl. But is Rachel the girl for him or is it Karen?
In walks Karen who met Jake through the same dating service. She is a Golden Girl, Betty-like but a manipulative senior, slightly older than Rachel. In one of her schemes, Karen just shows up at Jake’s apartment to retrieve something she left behind after their escapade.
When this Three’s Company-like cast comes together, the play becomes even more delicious to the eyes. The two feisty seniors banter back and forth while Jake tries to dodge various sexual disclosures, with his facial expressions telling all.
But then Art Shulman, director of this appetizing plate of talent, cleverly guides us to the world of the World Wide Web where Nigel, a gigolo-like senior, joins the threesome. The revelation of Nigel’s past relationship with Rachel and her embarrassing history with the Internet, questions Jake’s trust and his hopes for a relationship with Rachel.
Rachel, played by L.B. Zimmerman, commands the stage like Julie Andrews in the “Sound of Music. ” She is graceful on this modest stage using every inch of it to deliver a solid performance.
Morry Schorr plays Jake who controls the plot with a polished performance reflective of his seasoned training. His masterful facial expressions coupled with delivery, are worthy of his work on stage and on screen.
Karen, played by Diane Frank, is the third wheel in this comedy of seniors who provides the “no she didn’t” laughs. Her good timing and stage presence makes her the secret rose in this play.
Gigolo Nigel, played by Patrick Skelton adds the salaciousness with his debonair looks and deliberate performance. Listen for Nigel’s well-placed sexual innuendos in his interactions with the other characters, particularly, Jake.
The two hours I spent watching this play was very entertaining and I catch myself in a good place whenever I think of a bagel.
‘Bagels is currently running Fridays and Saturdays at 8p.m. and Sundays at 2p.m. at the Secret Rose Theater located at 11246 Magnolia Blvd. in North Hollywood until April 11. For more information, visit www.secretrose.com.