REVIEWPLAYS.COM THE 60s by Trish Soodik

Pacific Resident Theatre presents

THE 60s
by Trish Soodik

After her highly acclaimed appearance in “If You Get to Bethlehem, You’ve Gone Too Far”, Mariette Hartley wows them again in “The 60’s”, a comedic – dramatic look at yesteryear’s flower children who have grown older and supposedly wiser and are ready to enjoy their peaceful golden years.

Well, almost. Norman and Grace were married over thirty years and now are in the fourth year of their divorce. She’s settling into a new comfortable routine as the friendly neighborhood pharmacist and Norman is busy chasing girls young enough to be his granddaughter. Along the way there are the inevitable problems of aging as Norman’s gout flares when he tries to go dancing but meets a young woman on the rebound of a bad marriage. It looks like Norman might be on the way to a conquest . . . if only Grace would stop showing up at the wrong time!

Everywhere he goes, Grace’s image appears in his mind as if chastising him or reminding him of his little ailments and of their past times. It’s evident that they still have a strong bond and are fighting hard to deny it. However, Norman is certain that his life is better and his days of skirt chasing are just beginning now that he’s free.

He wasn’t counting on his best friend Joe admitting that he’s interested in Grace and he certainly had not expected her to suffer an unexpected stroke. Her recovery is slow but during the convalescing period Norman has serious issues with his only son, with his new friend Audrey and with himself.

Steven Vinovich is excellent as Norman, somewhat headstrong, self indulgent and charming. Depending on which side of the fence one sits, some will call his character a real jerk and others will swear he’s a lovable curmudgeon. However, there’s no argument on Mariette’s portrait of Grace. She’s every bit the dignified ex-wife who is coming to terms with her life in spite of still having a deep love for Norman. She’s funny, she’s serious, she’s sad and she plays the stroke victim without resorting to overt melodrama or sympathy.

The rest of the cast does wonderful support work, including Jerry Sroka as Joe, Norman’s life long friend. Sroka’s nervous character has a perfect sense of comic timing that meshes perfectly with Vinovich’s laid back demeanor. Kevin Rahm plays Adam, Norman and Grace’s son, who has harbored serious resentment for his father for years. Dana Dewes is perky and cute as the recently divorced Audrey while Austin Highsmith and Samantha Thompson fill the sweet eye department as Girl #1 and Girl #2. Neil McGowen plays a bartender and William Lithgow is terrific as the hypochondriac man who is hooked on meds.

Nostalgic and charming, the songs take you back to the “good old days” and the reminiscences may have you sighing with a few flashbacks of your own. If you want a story of enduring love and devotion this may not be it, but it does show that some relationships never end – even if the people involved seem far apart.

The Pacific Resident Theatre is located at: 703 Venice Blvd, Venice CA. Reservations: 310 822-8392

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