‘Review: ‘Love, Sex and the I.R.S.’ at Wolf Pack Theatre Company

Love, Sex and the I.R.S. is a live-action 70s sitcom with standout performances

Love, Sex and the I.R.S. features many manic rib-tickling moments. Its 70s feel will have you feeling funky vibes through the laughs. The show, written in the late 70s by William Van Zandt and Jane Millmore is all about honesty and waiting for that other shoe to drop when one doesn’t tell the truth.

It seems struggling musician Jon (Brian Thomas Wise) has a habit of lying; he’s been cheating the I.R.S. for four years, claiming his male roommate, Leslie (the always excellent Dwayne Allen), is his wife.

The cast of Love, Sex, and the I.R.S. Photo courtesy of Wolf Pack Theatre Company.

The cast of Love, Sex, and the I.R.S. Photo courtesy of Wolf Pack Theatre Company.

Chaos ensues when I.R.S. agent Floyd (the outstanding Stanley Livengood) shows up to make sure everything is legit. Then there’s the pesky fact that Leslie has been dating Jon’s fiancée Kate (Vanessa Berben) behind Jon’s back for the past week…and wait there’s more!

Susan L. Smithers as Vivian. Photo courtesy of Wolf Pack Theatre Company.

Susan L. Smithers as Vivian. Photo courtesy of Wolf Pack Theatre Company.

Jon’s mother Vivian (the always spot-on Susan L. Smithers) is visiting New York City from Chicago and pitches the hissiest of hissy fits when she thinks her wayward son Jon is already shacking up—and God forbid, living in sin—with one ugly woman, Leslie in drag.

Throw in Leslie’s girlfriend, Connie (Lauren Patton), who feels guilty about possibly driving Leslie into transvestism through her bossiness, and a nosey building super, Mrs. Jensen (Lorraine Bouchard), and a pulled-from-the-subway lawyer, Mr. Grunion (Aref Dajani), and you’ve got a typical farce with all the pieces sitting on the stage ready for the proverbial laugh track to kick in.

Dwayne Allen as Leslie. Photo courtesy of Wolf Pack Theatre Company.

Dwayne Allen as Leslie. Photo courtesy of Wolf Pack Theatre Company.

Smithers was fun to observe as she transformed from overly-concerned mother to inebriated, domineering mother. Allen’s performance was simply manic: running from an enraged Jon, rolling on the floor, spouting lines like “I just came out of the closet.” Allen’s twitchy, nervous body language made his lines stand out and seem funnier than they were written.

Livengood’s nerdy, sex-starved I.R.S. agent was not only a pleasure to watch, but the glue that gave many scenes their comic punch. He endured everything from a bottle over the head from an irate Kate to a hilarious pillow beating by the I.R.S. hating Vivian. The pacing and cues could have come quicker in the first act, but that may have been due to the two-hour and 15 minute-long script; the pace and the laughs picked up considerably from there.

Costumers Dannielle Beitzell and Eileen Murray Kraft did an excellent job evoking a 70s feel. I especially liked I.R.S. agent Floyd’s wide-tie, fugly sports-jacket and fedora.

Stanley Livengood as Floyd Spinner. Photo courtesy of Wolf Pack Theatre Company.

Stanley Livengood as Floyd Spinner. Photo courtesy of Wolf Pack Theatre Company.

Director and Set Designer William Leary did a great job with set decoration. The busy set walls sported several albums covers and vinyl records, from the likes of the Supremes, Donny and Marie Osmond and Donna Summer. Several lava lamps added a nostalgic flavor to the apartment set. Leary used Gloria Gaynor, the Bee Gees, and Village People music before, during, and after the show to set a disco-era tone.

Love, Sex and the I.R.S. is a 70s sitcom come to life, with the typical elements of farce thrown in. Strong performances by the cast make it the perfect show to catch during tax season.

Running Time: Two hours and 15 minutes, with two intermissions.

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Love, Sex and the I.R.S  plays through April 16, 2016 at Wolf Pack Theatre Company performing at St. John Evangelical Church – 5820 Riverdale Road, in Riverdale, MD. For tickets, call the box office at (240) 271-5471, or purchase them online.

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