Kate Fodor's enormously entertaining new play centers on a woman who enrolls in a clinical trial to treat workplace depression.
Rx centers on Meena (Marin Hinkle), the managing editor of a cattle and swine magazine, who enrolls in a clinical trial to treat workplace depression. She grows closer to Dr. Phil Grey (Stephen Kunken), the researcher in charge of the trial, particularly after he purchases a book of poems that she wrote years ago, and finds himself inexorably drawn to them -- and to her.
Hinkle strikes just the right note of pathetic desperation in Meena's determination to become -- and stay -- part of this drug trial. She never overdoes her character's crying jags, somehow managing to make them both funny and heartfelt. She also handles nicely her character's transformation into a more upbeat personality once the medication seems to have its desired effect.
Kunken has a wry, understated manner of speaking that serves him well. But he also provides an enormous depth of emotion that roils just under the surface and makes Phil a character the audience wants to succeed.
Marylouise Burke does an outstanding job as Frances, an elderly widow who befriends Meena. Elizabeth Rich impresses in the role of Allison, Phil's aggressively chipper boss. Paul Niebanck is effective in two rather different roles -- a hotshot marketing executive and a well-meaning, but bumbling scientist, and Michael Bakkensen rounds out the cast as Meena's boss, Simon, who is somewhat shallowly developed.
Fodor manages to get in some rather sly digs at the profit-conscious pharmaceutical industry while still keeping the majority of the comedy character-based. She is adept at constructing humorous lines that also contain a hint of sadness, such as Frances' observation, "I was terribly lonely after I fell in love and got married," which describes how the character missed the camaraderie of her fellow employees once she stopped working.
Set designer Lee Savage has fun with the visualization of certain scenes -- particularly the locale where Meena and Frances first meet. Lindsay Jones' original music/sound design is also particularly spot-on whenever the change to this particular environment occurs.