Review: ‘Rx’ by Kate Fodor at Dreamcatcher Rep in Summit, New Jersey
Dreamcatcher, the professional acting company based in Summit, is currently presenting the New Jersey premiere of Kate Fodor’s somewhat dark romantic comedy “Rx.” The play is an excellent satirical take on the pharmaceutical industry, however, the high entertainment level it delivers is in large part due to the contributions of the director Laura Ekstrand, and the exceptional talent of the resident performers led by Jessica O’Hara-Baker, with Noreen Farley, Dave Maulbeck, Janet Sales and Jason Szamreta. “Rx” is making its NJ debut after its successful 2012 Off-Broadway run at Primary Stages. It was originally nurtured at Premiere Stages at Kean University.
“An excellent satirical take on the pharmaceutical industry”
In “Rx,” Jessica O’Hara-Baker has a beautiful star-turn as Meena Pierotti, managing editor of Piggeries, American Cattle and Swine Magazine. Depressed? Hate her job? You betcha, with a purple passion. Any way to change her attitude? A major pharmaceutical company, Schmidt Pharma, thinks they have the answer... a new, untested drug that promises complete job satisfaction. It also would, of course, mean an unending sales stream for the drug company. In contrast, the company has stopped testing a “heartache pill” since one pill is all that is needed for a cure.
Meena enrolls in the test program that is administered by researcher Dr. Phil Gray, played by the marvelous, resident lead comedian, Dave Maulbeck. Overseeing Gray is the test unit’s super aggressive manager Allison Hardy. Hardy sees this assignment as her super fast track to senior management at Schmidt Pharma. Janet Sales, one of the co-founders of Dreamcatcher, is perfect as the (aspiring) high powered corporate executive.
Meena finds direction from an older widow, Frances, whom she meets during her frequent tear-filled absences from her desk. To say more about the circumstances of their chats falls in the spoiler category. Suffice to say, the remarkable Noreen Farley, the company’s resident senior, provides some of the best comedy and touching moments in her unscheduled meetings with Meena. Farley, we should note, had a marvelous star-turn in Dreamcatcher’s “Blood: A Comedy” three seasons ago. This past October we saw another star-turn from a company member, Harriet Trangucci, in “The Other Place.” Now, it is Jessica O’Hara-Baker who shines so impressively in “Rx.”
The other excellent cast member, who covers three roles, Simon, Meena’s magazine boss; Richard, a Schmidt Pharma marketing executive; and Ed, a Schmidt Pharma researcher, is Jason Szamreta. Dreamcatcher regulars will surely remember Jason from last season’s original play by Laura Ekstrand, “The Neighborhood,” and the touching “Next Fall” with Scott McGowan.
The play runs just under two hours, including one intermission, and is cleverly staged via a series of blackouts. Simple props serve effectively as an office, department store, examining room and a bedroom. Director Ekstrand’s production team includes Zach Pizza who designed the lighting; Lindsay Jones the sound; Jeff Knapp sound engineer; Danielle Constance props and Laura Ekstrand costumes. Stage manger is Amy Hadam with an assist from Alex Schuetz. The managing director of the Dreamcatcher Repertory Theatre is Steven McIntyre. Laura Ekstrand is the artistic director and co-founder.
“Jessica O’Hara-Baker has a beautiful star-turn as Meena Pierotti.”
By Rick Busciglio for Northern New Jersey Theater Examiner | Feb. 18, 2014
“Janet Sales is perfect” as a corporate exec.
“Phil Gray [is] played by the marvelous, resident lead comedian, Dave Maulbeck.”
“The remarkable Noreen Farley… provides some of the best comedy and touching moments.”
“The other excellent cast member, who covers three roles... is Jason Szamreta.”