Arts & Entertainment

McLean Players Explore Senior Life & Love with ‘Social Security’

socialsecurity-1Starting Sept. 16, the McLean Community Players (MCP) will bring the timeless debate between sex and love – with artistic sophistication and a hearty helping of zaniness – to the stage for local audiences with a rendition of the Broadway play “Social Security.”

In “Social Security,” a play by Andrew Bergman first performed in 1986, the audience is asked to examine the life of an 80-year-old widowed Jewish mother.Bergman, known for his work on the comedic film classics “Blazing Saddles” and “Fletch,” scripted a tale to explore the conceit that love, whether everlasting or not, is available with a senior citizen discount. This most eternal of human questions is analyzed with one liners, sexual innuendos and comic outlandishness similar to the hit Broadway play “The Producers.”

The dialogue in “Social Security” fires at a slapstick pace, despite being confined to the setting of a single Manhattan apartment. What happens is Trudy, the daughter of Sophie Greengrass the aforementioned 80-year-old Jewish mother with plenty of Jewish mother tendencies, drops Sophie off to live with her other daughter, Trudy’s sister, Barbara and her husband David in their Manhattan apartment. Barbara and David own a trendy art gallery.

Sophie, a widowed former wife of a house painter, is not trendy by any stretch of the imagination. She wields a walker and stymies any relationship with her family through guilt and convenient incoherence. Yet, when it seems her loggerhead with Barbara and the rest of her family has reached its zenith, she meets a famed 90-year-old artist, Maurice Koenig. Sophie and Maurice exchange pleasantries and then much more as love is explored in the sunset of life.

Director Shayne Gardner, a veteran with the MCP, believes that “Social Security” is as relatable today as it was in 1986.

“Dealing with aging parents and dealing with relationship problems and marriage and children – all of those things don’t really change that much,” said Gardner. “Everyone will see something they can identify with.”

Gardner also believes the venue, Alden Theatre, will add to quality performances and provide an authentic theatrical atmosphere for the benefit of the audience.
“Frankly, the Alden Theatre is one of the best venues for community theater,” said Gardner. “It is really a professional-quality theater. Not all community theater companies have such access to a space that has such wonderful equipment. It’s not the church basement.”

Ilma Striker, who portrays Sophie Greengrass with subtle comic timing and charming idiosyncrasies, was attracted to the character of Sophie Greengrass because the character brings something different to the stage.

“I like feisty people,” said Striker, who has been acting since childhood. “The last play I did I played a redneck; this time it is a New York Jew. I like the switch. She [Greengrass] starts out being a very angry woman and then her whole world changes.”

Striker went on to add that she hopes the message, “You never stop living and loving no matter what,” comes across from her portrayal.

Jay Reiner, who plays Trudy’s husband, Martin Heyman, is confident anyone attending will “get some good laughs and have some fun and leave wanting to be nice to their moms.”

“Social Security” will open the 2011-12 season for the McLean Community Players. The show runs Sept. 16 – Oct. 1. Performances are Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. with a 2 p.m. Sunday matinee. Tickets are $14 to $16 with group rates available. “Social Security” is recommended for an audience of 16 years old and up due to adult language and situations. For additional information, call 703-790-9223 or visit mcleanplayers.org.