Working Girls Juggle Romance and Work in Barker’s “Romantic”

 

IsntItRomanticPlaywright Wendy Wasserstein explores the internal struggles faced by a pair of young working women in Isn’t It Romantic, a bittersweet comedy/drama being performed by The Players at Barker Playhouse.

Set in the 1980s, the story focuses on Janie and Harriet, who are longtime best friends juggling romance and careers. Janie is a freelance writer with an overbearing mother. Harriet works for the Colgate company and is hoping to work her way up the corporate ladder. Janie begins dating Marty, a bright and charming Jewish doctor with a father who is a successful businessman. Harriet becomes involved in an affair with her handsome boss, Paul, who happens to be married.

Janie and Harriet grapple with the paradox of having the ability to juggle a full time job along with a husband and children. Is it really possible to “have it all” as the women’s magazines claim? Wasserstein covered the same themes in her award-winning play The Heidi Chronicles and provides these characters with witty dialogue and personality quirks.

Tammy Mulrooney is sympathetic and engaging as the deeply insecure Janie, who isn’t ready to make a commitment. Katie Preston also shines as the more self-assured and confident Harriet, who hides her vulnerabilities under a veneer of glamour. Michael Pugliese is tremendously likable as Marty, who is ready to settle down and start a family. I also enjoyed the performances of Karen Gail Kessler as Tasha, Janie’s free-spirited mother who is also a dancer, as well as Joan Dillenback (who has directed several plays at Barker) as Harriet’s mother Lillian, an executive with a chilly demeanor. The cast is rounded out by Sam O’Donnell as Russian cab driver Vladimir, Peter Sentkowski as Janie’s befuddled but lovable father Simon, and Erich Dethlefsen as Paul Stuart.

Director Tom DiMaggio has crafted a fast-paced show with appealing chemistry between the lead actresses. We feel the bond between Janie and Harriet, who end up following different paths on the road to happiness.

Isn’t It Romantic. The Players at Barker Playhouse thru Dec 10. 400 Benefit St, PVD. For tickets, call 401-273-0590.

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