Nancy Hornback, Patricia Dalen, J.J. Van Name,
Kate VanDevender, and Jennifer Dorr White
in Sealed for Freshness
(© Carol Rosegg)
Nancy Hornback, Patricia Dalen, J.J. Van Name,
Kate VanDevender, and Jennifer Dorr White
in Sealed for Freshness
(© Carol Rosegg)
Doug Stone's new comedy Sealed for Freshness follows a group of women at a Tupperware party in 1968, and the play too often reflects the qualities of the merchandise. Its jokes are prepackaged and the characters are made of plastic. No air enters or escapes the theater from the first entrance to the final curtain. Indeed, fresh is not the word that immediately comes to mind while you watch.

The best that can be said about the work, which Stone has also directed, is that it stoops impressively low in pandering to the audience. There are gags involving flatulence, funny hats, frozen frogs, vaginal aromas, severed testicles, semen stains, dog feces, bad puns, and oral sex.

The play begins in the living room of Bonnie (Jennifer Dorr White) and Richard Kapica (Brian Dykstra), a middle-aged couple talking about the disappointments in their marriage. But they have to cut the conversation short because she's invited guests over: Tracy Ann (Kate VanDevender), a ditzy blonde with a glass shattering voice, Jean (Nancy Hornback), the prim and proper princess in a smart purple dress, and Sinclair (J.J. Van Name), Jean's loudmouth, booze-swilling sister in the third trimester of her pregnancy. Entering the party last is Diane (Patricia Dalen), a skinny, attractive career woman who is selling the Tupperware.

Predictably, it turns out that the characters have messy lives underneath their polished surfaces. The hostess' husband just told her he no longer finds her attractive. Almost all of the women are in rocky marriages. As the first act draws to a close, secrets are revealed, and illusions are shattered. Someone admits that she may have been lying about the death of a loved one, and that she had several miscarriages.

Wait a minute. Liquor-filled parties, bitter marriages, questionable stories about death, and unfruitful pregnancies? Is this play referencing Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? In fact, it's the anti-Woolf.

Yes, Sinclair is the braying Earth Mother of this show, but unlike Martha, her character has no depth - despite Van Name's funny and natural performance. She insults and wounds other people because she's petty, not because she's wounded. At one point, she tells everyone that she hates motherhood, and the rest basically tell her to sweep her opinions under the shag carpet.

In the end, Sealed for Freshness seems to argue that shattering people's illusions is actually cruel, and we'd all be better off dealing with the pleasant appearances.