Men and women over 50 want sex. They have sexual pasts, they’re thinking about sex now, and they’re trying to make sex hotter than ever.
That’s the insight gleaned from Fifty Plus — A Celebration of Life... As We Know It, the debut production from the theater company Pigs Do Fly, running through May 11 at Empire Stage in Fort Lauderdale.
Producer Ellen Wacher created Pigs Do Fly to satisfy an older demographic. The company’s mission is to produce plays that “highlight the actor over 50 as a viable, fully involved, full of life character.” Apparently, that means sex.
Fifty Plus comprises seven plays performed by a cast of six: Todd Caster, Mark Kroczynski, Kitt Marsh, Troy J. Stanley, Carol Sussman and Janet Weakley. The plays fall into two categories, those that explore situations geared more to older persons and those that are simply cast with older actors.
The three plays that specifically deal with lives of more mature adults all involve sex. In Mrs. Jensen Isn’t Here Now by Steve Korbar, a man and a woman (Kroczynski and Marsh) indulge in some fantasy fulfillment. In Spice by David Susman, a couple (Kroczynski and Sussman) tries to make a sex tape. And in How Nice of You to Ask by Rich Rubin, a sex researcher (Stanley) gets some unexpected answers from an elderly woman (Weakley).
The other four plays involve universal situations and would work with actors of any age. While the main character in Flight Fright by Marjorie O’Neill-Butler is a grandma-to-be (Sussman), the play is really about a woman forced to face her fear of flying. In Kiss Her Goodbye by Mike Vogel, a widower (Stanley) tries to meet an intelligent woman. In Poison Control by Rebecca Gorman O’Neill, a man addicted to reality TV (Caster) calls a hotline operator (Marsh). And in Theater in the Red by Joan Broadman, the best-written piece, a director (Weakley) and a playwright (Sussman) clash over business and art.
As a whole, Fifty Plus has problems. Actors were stumbling over lines at Thursday’s opening performance. The pacing, by directors O’Neill Butler and Beverly Blanchette, is too slow for the actors to develop any real timing. The plays, for the most part, have a saccharine quality, with no real tension or bite.
But there are some highlights. Kroczynski and Sussman are poignant and funny in Spice, especially Sussman, as she tries to remove her nylon knee-highs in a sexually enticing way. Caster and Marsh don’t find the absurdity but do develop some comic urgency in Poison Control. The evening’s standout is Weakley, who lets loose as a manic director in Theater in the Red and as the woman with a past in How Nice of You to Ask.
Fifty Plus – A Celebration of Life... As We Know It is a valiant effort but only time — and another production — will tell if Pigs Do Fly is destined to soar or crash into the South Florida theater landscape.