Sheldon & Mrs. Levine
The falcon Theater
They did a magic act recently at the Falcon Theatre – changing Carol Burnett, who was to appear but had to cancel, into Penny Marshall, whose implants got infected, into Sally Struthers, who appeared as Mrs. Levine with Jeff Marlow as her thirty-one year old son, Sheldon. With a rush, six hour rehearsal under the watchful eye of John Bowab, its director, the two appeared ready, wiling and able to appear in Sam Bobrick and Julie Stein's play.
It's a tale told in letter form with mother writing to son and son eagerly responding. The humor comes hot and heavy for the first fifteen minutes: Sheldon: "The reason dad died so young is that he wanted to." Mrs. Levine: "I, your mother, risked her life bringing you into this world…" Sheldon: "How many sons took their mother to their prom? " Mrs. Levine: "When I'm not thinking of you, I'm out shopping for a headstone." Sheldon: "I hate you! I hate you! I hate you! Love, Sheldon"
As the play progresses, tedium sets in for the story gets more and more bizarre as Sheldon wanders the earth, trying to "find" himself while his mother finds a new relationship with her guru, Akhbar. True, the letters keep coming but, unfortunately, the humor evaporates into totally unreal, outlandish silliness and outright stupidity.
Billed as the second production in the Falcon Theatre's 2007-2008 all-comedy subscription season, all the good lighting by Jeremy Pivnick, the beautiful set by Keith Mitchell, the variety of costumes created by Denitsa Bliznakova cannot save the static direction of the actors. Somehow, Sheldon's appearance as Elvis, his arrest for breaking into Graceland and being sent to jail, and his traveling aboard freight cars just took us further and further away from reality. When he lands in jail, Mrs. Levine voices her approval since she now knows Sheldon's whereabouts and can find him easily. My wish was that I didn't find them at all.
Sheldon & Mrs. Levine Falcon Theatre 4252 Riverside Drive Burbank Tel. 818-955-8101 Tickets $25 – $37.50 Wednesday through Saturday @ 8:00 p.m.; Sunday @ 4:00 p.m. Until November 18