October 12, 2023
Review: Tomfoolery Shines in 'Love Sex and the IRS'
Joe Siegel READ TIME: 3 MIN.
To put it simply, "Love Sex and the IRS" is a screwball farce about a bunch of people making the most incredibly foolish decisions.
Alvaro Beltran stars as Jon, who ends up in big trouble when he is paid a visit by a representative of the Internal Revenue Service. His goal is to save money by convincing the government he is married. The only problem is he isn't married, although he is engaged to Kate (Carolyn Coughlin).
Kate has been having a steamy love affair with Jon's friend and roommate Leslie (John Cillino). Jon persuades Leslie to pretend to be his wife for the benefit of the IRS agent Floyd Spinner. In order to do this, Leslie has to dress as a woman, since John informed the IRS that Leslie is a woman.
Much of the humor in the play comes from Leslie's efforts to maintain the charade for Jon's sake, while also concealing his affair with Kate. More complications arise, including the frequent visits from a nosy apartment manager (Sparrow Galozza) and Jon's elderly mother Vivian (Maureen Noel).
Director Tony Annicone, working from a script by Billy Van Zandt, keeps the action moving swiftly. Annicone ("Social Security") specializes in broad comedy and pushes his actors to let loose and have a good time.
Cillino and Beltran do the job of selling us on these characters and their relationships. Cillino gets a lot of laughs while Beltran plays the "straight" man (no pun intended). One of the funniest moments is when Leslie announces his coming out of the closet, in the literal sense.
Due to some behind the scenes drama, Shaelyn Heroux ("Exit Laughing") stepped in as a last-minute replacement for the actor cast as Spinner. Heroux is amusing as Spinner tells everyone how much he hates his wife.
Galozza proves to be a real discovery, possessing an offbeat speaking delivery and presence as the apartment manager Mr. Jensen. It's a gem of a characterization.
The MVP of the show is Noel, a skilled comedienne. Vivian is a hard-drinking, tart tongued woman who can hold her own with anyone. Imagine a more assertive version of Sophia from "The Golden Girls," and you'll know what Noel does here. Noel excels in the type of physical comedy a show like this is known for. Whether she's knocking back an entire bottle of liquor or slumping on a sofa in a state of shock, it's a pure delight to witness.
Van Zandt, who also wrote "Lie, Cheat, and Genuflect," piles on the misunderstandings and mistaken identities. Part of the joy of "Love Sex and the IRS" is seeing the escalating lunacy and the effect it has on the characters.
It's silly, over the top, and wildly unrealistic but it leaves you with a good feeling. That's something we all could use right now.
"Love Sex and the IRS" runs through October 22. The Arctic Playhouse. 1249 Main Street. West Warwick, RI. For tickets, visit thearcticplayhouse.com or call 401-573-3443.
Joe Siegel has written for a number of other GLBT publications, including In newsweekly and Options.