There's something naively life-affirming about Colin Higgins's love story between well-heeled nihilistic teenager Harold and 79-year-old free-spirit Maude.
Higgins's own stage version of the cult film he scripted for director Hal Ashby was a commercial flop on Broadway, and it's not difficult to see why in Theatre Jezebel's Glasgay! revival. It's not that it's bad, it's just that a black comedy based on a kid who fakes suicide in between hanging around funerals probably makes more sense now than it did then. The early 1970s were an awkward period in American social history when the summer of love had begun to give way to something darker and more cynical. While Kenny Miller's vivid production taps into the play's period oddity, it also shines a beacon on how disaffected youth can be woken up to life by their elders in a way that might easily be applied to today. Miller allows his cast to breeze through what becomes an off-kilter comic romp with a set of heightened performances to suit.
In the central roles, Tommy Bastow's sullen brattishness as Harold is offset by Vari Sylvester's kooky vivaciousness as Maude. There's dry support too from Anita Vettesse as Harold's distracted mother and Richard Conlon as the inevitably sex-obsessed therapist.
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There's a wonderfully confused exchange between Sylvester and Vettesse as it dawns on Harold's mother the girl of her boy's dreams is standing before her. The pathos that follows during Maude's 80th birthday celebrations may be a final fling for her, but it's as if Harold has just woken up to life in this sweetest of counter-cultural curios.