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Theatre Time takes on ‘Three’s Company’ in farce

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Big lies lead to big trouble in this zany farce that keeps the audience howling with appreciative laughter for most of the evening. Once you've seen Vincent in a dress, you'll understand why. He is, indeed, a plus-size vision of a gal.

Leslie and roommate Jon Trachtman, appealingly played by the fresh-faced Thomas Raven Ryder, are two "starving artist" types who are continuously monitored by a Three's Company-style landlord (a la Mr. Roper), played by Jim Thomas, who is intent on keeping unmarried tenants from living together in his building.

What Leslie doesn't know is that Trachtman has been claiming him as his "wife" on joint tax returns for years to make ends meet, and what Trachtman doesn't know is that his fiancee, Kate, and his best friend, Leslie, have been having an affair in the weeks leading up to the wedding.

Dawn Marie Wood, as Jon's fiancee, Kate Dennis, displays her talent in this role, creating a genuine character from a sketch role. Wood might refrain from the distracting habit of bringing her hand to her forehead to indicate stress during an otherwise convincing performance.

Enter Floyd Spinner, the gullible and lecherous I.R.S. investigator, played in a spot-on performance by Armand Catenaro, to find out why Leslie, the previously single male income tax filer has turned up on Trachtman's joint return as a woman.

Jon's mother, Vivian, played with pizazz by Carole Hans, and Leslie's old girlfriend, Connie, played by newcomer Sarah Marcisak, show up to complicate matters even further.

With characters and a theme that seem to have been lifted directly from the wildly popular John Ritter, Suzanne Sommers vehicle of the late-70s, authors Billy Van Zandt and Jane Milmore, in this 1980 play, pull out all the stops. "Love, Sex, and the I.R.S." is chock full of the predictable yet funny one-liners that mark the work of these prolific television sit-com and stage farce writers.

The authors' television credits include the comedies "Martin," "Newhart," "Suddenly Susan," and "Yes, Dear," and an Emmy Award nomination for their "I Love Lucy" special. They've also written and starred in twenty of their own comedies including Off-Broadway's farce "Drop Dead," What the Bellhop Saw," "Confessions of a Dirty Blonde," and "Having a Wonderful Time, Wish You Were Here."

In an era when the idea that anyone would be as concerned as Jansen about an unmarried couple living together is laughable, and the idea of two people of the same sex getting married is not, "Love, Sex, and the I.R.S." seems a bit dated. But the play is a confection of silliness that is to be enjoyed, not analyzed; a bit of fun that plays for laughs and get them. This crowd-pleaser will certainly add to Theatre Time's growing number of loyal fans.

"Love, Sex, and the I.R.S." will be presented at the First Presbyterian Church of Whitestone Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., and Sundays at 4:30 p.m. through May 2. For tickets and information, call 718-391-8697.

Posted 7:03 pm, October 10, 2011
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