She is a published poet who once wrote a prose poem about feet. He has a foot fetish. Obviously, they were made for each other.
But that isn’t how they meet.
In Kate Fodor’s hilarious new romantic comedy, “Rx,” now having its Los Angeles premiere at The Lost Studio, she comes to him as a potential client. He is a research doctor conducting a clinical trial for a large pharmaceutical company. The pill he is testing is supposed to cure workplace depression.
She is the editor of a magazine for swine farmers and she hates her job. So she applies to become one of his guinea pigs.
Jonathan Pessin is the doctor, Phil, whose bedside manner leaves a lot to be desired. He is still conscience-stricken for having sworn at a little boy who bit him during an examination.
Mina Badie is the editor, Meena, who prides herself on the fact that she never cries in the office. She goes to a nearby department store and cries in the department that sells oversized underpants for fat ladies. “Those big white panties that look like the sails on a boat,” she explains.
And so she becomes part of the drug trial and comes to see him every couple of weeks. The drug, called SP9 to 5, doesn’t seem to be curing her depression, but she is feeling better because she believes she will begin to feel better “any minute now.”
In the meantime, they fall in love. And she does begin to feel better. But is it the pill or Dr. Phil that is transforming her from a “depressed worker” to a zealously obsessive workaholic?
The plot is simple — nothing terribly profound — but it becomes a modern classic by virtue of the supporting characters and the extraordinary actors who play them. Noel Coward, eat your heart out.
Chief among them is Kirsten Kollender as Allison, the tall blonde office manager/marketing consultant/martinet who emphasizes and enforces “the rules” by smacking everyone with her clipboard and wrinkling her nose. She steals the show every time she appears onstage with her bouncy, self-confident stride.
Then there is Michael Dempsey as Richard, who comes up with the marketing campaign for the new pill (Allison bolsters his confidence by calling him “a Sherpa for consumers”). Dempsey also plays Ed Morgon, a rumpled doctor who delivers the funniest bit in the entire play. Which is saying a lot, because this play is laugh-out-loud funny all the way through.
Rounding out the superb cast is K Callan, a sweetly ditzy old lady that Meena encounters in the underpants department, and James Donovan, her nerdy boss at the magazine.
And masterfully guiding the whole production is director John Pleshette, who keeps everyone moving expeditiously through a minimal set that he designed. It’s a clever use of a small space, with a rack of underwear representing the department store and a single desk and an examining table representing the necessary offices.
“Rx” will continue at The Lost Studio, 130 S. La Brea Ave., Los Angeles, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m. through March 1. Call (323) 960-7780 for tickets.
Cynthia Citron can be reached at email@example.com.