Dion Mucciacito and Allison Mack
in Apple Cove
(© Carol Rosegg)
Dion Mucciacito and Allison Mack
in Apple Cove
(© Carol Rosegg)
Betty Friedan meets Christopher Durang in Lynn Rosen's absurdist comedy Apple Cove, premiering at the Women's Project and directed with witty dispatch by Giovanna Sardelli.

Edie (a winsome Allison Mack) hasn't even started to "pop out" progeny and already she's chafing at the strictures imposed by the edenic gated community she's moved into with husband Alan (Erin Gann). Bored, restless, and -- in keeping with the latest luxury afforded the moneyed classes -- voluntarily unemployed, she's fertile ground for an outbreak of rebellion.

It doesn't help that her father (Paul Carlin, pitch-perfect) and his second wife, Mary (the very funny Kathy Searle), a former parochial school rival of hers, are literally breathing down her neck. Not only do they live right next door -- you can count on boundaries soon being breached in Scott Bradley's storybook set -- Dad heads up "The Firm," its ominous-sounding, all-encompassing on-site corporation.

Alan starts out a bit of a rebel himself. He may be a stickler for conformity on the home front -- ripping out, for instance, a wild rose that invades their tidy garden -- but he savors his little fiefdom as manager at Rec World, despite an increasingly surreal commute. He's wedded to his work vest, so it's a sad, seriocomic day when, in the wake of an infantile breakdown, he suits up to join The Firm.

Meanwhile, even as Dad strives to make Alan over in his image, Mary is doing her best to undermine Edie's. Of all the hilariously loopy through lines animating this modern fable, Mary's mission is perhaps the funniest. Ever since sixth grade, when Edie was always assigned the princess part and Mary that of the troll, she has been trying to turn the tables. Gloat though she may over her new status as stepmother, she's still powerless to pull focus from Daddy's little girl.

As if that weren't enough, Erin's focus starts to stray once a studly, super-competent, exotically multiethnic security guard (Dion Mucciacito) appears on the scene. Talk about the call of the wild! The denizens of Apple Cove may imagine themselves safe in his hands, but they will never be the same.