Speaking of laughs, let's talk about Lavin. She gets them all. Busch wrote this role for her, and let's hope there are more to come. (It's a pairing along the lines of Terrence McNally and Nathan Lane.) You haven't seen anything until you've seen Linda Lavin trying to bury herself, head first, in a chair-and-a-half. Her face gets so red she matches the furniture. It is, as the MasterCard commercials say, priceless.
As Lee, the wonderfully preserved Michele Lee isn't quite as dead-on, but she does her job and more. She's certainly glamorous, especially in Chinese-patterned silk and a purple demi-bra, but she lacks the mystery and killer instinct her character requires. Still, she and Lavin face off well, and Roberts plays off both ladies like a pro. As the foul-mouthed, feces-minded Frieda -- a.k.a. Marjorie's hellion of a mother -- Shirl Bernheim is fine, but her comic timing isn't on the level of the others. What's needed is Estelle Getty from The Golden Girls, or Nancy Marchand from The Sopranos. Bernheim just can't land all those great lines.
Mention must also be made of Anil Kumar, who's something of a standout as Mohammed the doorman. What I appreciated even more than this fresh-faced actor was his character. He's a handyman, an Iraqi historian, and a harmless observer. He helps keep Marjorie grounded by chopping olives and reading books with her. I couldn't help but wonder: Who's watching the door while he's holed up in her apartment? But this is, after all, Busch's world. This is the playwright who once killed a character with electrolysis. Don't overanalyze -- just enjoy the Tale he tells.