Playwright Katie Forgette, author of the earlier Theatre 40 hit, “Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Jersey Lily,” returns to Beverly Hills to premiere her latest comedy, INCIDENT AT OUR LADY OF PERPETUAL HELP. Directed by Ann Hearn Tobolowsky, INCIDENT AT OUR LADY OF PERPETUAL HELP offers warmth, heart, and laughs aplenty.
INCIDENT AT OUR LADY OF PERPETUAL HELP takes us back to 1973 – and all its dos and don’ts, especially about sex. This is the tale of the O’Shea family, a cash-challenged, conservative Irish-Catholic family who are trying to make it through another year – one month at a time. Narrated by the 19-year-old daughter of the O’Shea clan, Linda (Ivy Khan) has big plans for the future at Stanford University, on a scholarship, no less. She also has a few dreams circling around her hairy new boyfriend – who, for some unknown reason, hasn’t been responding to her letters recently. Linda will soon face her greatest challenge to date – telling her younger sister Becky (Danika Hughey) about the birds and the bees at the request of her well-meaning but sexually tongue-tied mother Josephine (Alison Blanchard). Soon the entire family – including her aunt Terri (Milda Dacys), her strict working-class pop Mike (Patrick Skelton, who gets to try on a few different roles), and even Grandma O’Shea (Theresa O’Shea), whose cranky voice echoes through the O’Shea halls almost non-stop – is dealing with a scandal of hellish proportions.
INCIDENT AT OUR LADY OF PERPETUAL HELP is a hysterical peek at a family navigating the cultural peaks and valleys of 1973 to the best of their ability. Kudos to a cast who really “gets it” – the setting, the people, and a touchy situation or two. Directed by the talented Tobolowsky, a lady who knows how to use zingers to full advantage and keep the merry carousel rolling along, INCIDENT AT OUR LADY OF PERPETUAL HELP tackles some sensitive issues with compassion mixed with very funny observations about life, love, and family. This is a show to tickle your funny bone – and maybe even remind you of some of your misbegotten youth.
As always, Jeff Rack’s set is perfect and takes you right back to the “70s, with costumes (Michele Young) and hair/makeup/wigs (Judi Lewin) making sure you don’t forget where and when. Derrick McDaniel’s lighting and Nick Foran’s sound add to the impact of this laugh-a-minute comedy. Talented playwright Katie Forgette really knows how to zero in on day-to-day problems with humor, warmth, and boundless laughter. If you’re in the January doldrums (especially after three weeks of rain-rain-rain), INCIDENT AT OUR LADY OF PERPETUAL HELP will raise your spirits and keep you giggling throughout.
INCIDENT AT OUR LADY OF PERPETUAL HELP runs through February 26, 2023, with performances at 7:30 on Thursdays through Saturdays and at 2 p.m. on Sundays. Theatre 40 performs in the Mary Levin Cutler Theatre (Beverly Hills High School), 241 S. Moreno Drive, Beverly Hills, CA 90212. Tickets are $35. For information and reservations, call 310-364-0535 or go online.