Any great comedy should make you think.
And make no mistake, Oren Safdie’s “Checks and Balances,” in its final two shows this weekend at Rogers Little Theater, is a great comedy. It’s the kind that makes you laugh honestly but guiltily at all the ways life is unfair; how the best intentions can end in ruin; and how sometimes the truth does anything but set you free.
The play is premiering at RLT because of a relationship formed last year when a staged reading by Safdie helped celebrate the opening of Crystal Bridges, designed by his father, Moshe Safdie. It’s a bold move by a community theater suddenly hiring and housing Equity actors and presenting a show with no track record, no movie version, no hometown favorite in a starring role. How well it succeeds may change the company’s future.
Friday’s audience seemed to think it was a good choice. Playgoers laughed, shook their heads, sighed. A pin dropping would have been heard at any moment during the show; viewers were that attentive.
What they saw was a grand performance by Joan Porter, a veteran of Broadway, TV and film, as Eleanor Kaufman, a charming and wealthy New York socialite who has dementia. She is irritating only because she wakes up in a new world every three minutes — and she mostly irritates her daughter, Katherine (Kristen Begneaud) because … Well, for a lot of reasons: love, loss, jealousy…
Into Eleanor’s lonely world comes a young man, Jonathan (Nick Abeel), hired to help her pay her bills and keep her books. His concern that she is being robbed by her longtime companion and maid, Victoria (Gameela Wright) turns out to cost her much more than money.
All the actors, guests and local veterans Begneaud and Kris Pruett as the accountant, are strong and vibrant, and the script is tight and compelling.
You’ll laugh — quite a lot. Later, when you’re thinking about it, you may need Kleenex.
‘Checks and Balances’
WHEN: 8 p.m. today (Nov. 10) and 2 p.m. Sunday (Nov. 11)
WHERE: Rogers Little Theater