One of the most successful husband-and-wife writing teams – Renee Taylor and Joe Bologna – are starring once again, along with Lainie Kazan, in a revival of their Bermuda Avenue Triangle, which opened off-Broadway in 1997.
The story is about two old, incredibly unattractive widows, dressed just one notch below street people, who are “banished” to a garish, Tikki-style Las Vegas condominium by their “never-can-please mama” daughters. The laughs are nonstop from the opening moment when a very reluctant, perpetually angry Tess LaRuffa (Lainie Kazan) leads an equally reluctant, almost as perpetually angry Fannie Saperstein (Renee Taylor) into their new home. Despite the 95 degrees temperature, Fannie is wearing her mink coat. After looking around with her pained, wonderful deadpan expression, she remarks that the unit “looks like it’s been painted with Pepto-Bismol.”
Enter the slick, velvet-tongued Don Juan, Johnny Paolucci (Joe Bologna.) Yes, he is an alcoholic, a gambler and a liar, but he is single, attractive, sexy and warmhearted and soon administers massive doses of his “sex vitamin” which rejuvenates these two old hags, putting radiance back into their lifeless faces. Unbeknownst to each other, slick, loveable Johnny manages to service each of the women and by Act II, they are transformed from sexless, dowdy old ladies, into outrageously cartoonish, glamorized sexy geriatric vamps.
The one-liners are funny. Fannie: “Jewish men make the best husbands – I got the one exception.” Johnny to Fannie: “You smell great. What are you wearing?” Fannie: “Chicken fat.” Johnny to Tess: “You smell great. What are you wearing?” Tess: “Ben Gay.”
The supporting cast adds to the overall merriment with a particularly delightful, garishly dressed (think Palm Beach) Rabbi Levine (Manny Kleinmuntz), whose unpleasant duty it is to serve the “girls” with an eviction notice due to their lascivious behavior.
The set design by James Noone and costume design by Gail Cooper-Hecht are of the highest quality poor taste and superbly enhance the on-stage, over-the-top shenanigans. The belly laughs are continual, so go light on the mascara or you will have black streaks running down your face.
Brentwood Theatre, 11301 Wilshire Blvd., www.BrentwoodTheatre.com, Ticketmaster, 213.365.3500, Tickets, $35-$58, through June 25