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Theater: *See your doctor for elation lasting more than 4 hours

By Carrie Humphreys
For the Observer

Described as an adult farce featuring grandmas gone wild, “Sex Please We’re Sixty” is bound to elicit gasps and giggles among Swamp Fox Player audiences.

Opening Friday at the Strand Theater, the fluffy comedy by Michael and Susan Parker, takes place at Mrs. Stancliffe’s Rose Cottage Bed and Breakfast, a sweet little inn that seems to attract an inordinate amount of single, menopausal, vacationing women.

Michael Parker made a specialty of writing British-style farces for the American stage. The current title echoes the long-running “No Sex Please We’re British.” His wife Susan is his collaborator.

Wandering in and out of Rose Cottage is neighbor, Bud the Stud, a dirty old man played by Tom Newmister, who thinks he’s the chick magnet for the place. And on the other side of Mrs. Stancliffe’s inn lives Henry Mitchell, played by Robbie ODonnell, a kind and thoughtful chemist who every day for 20 years has asked Mrs. Stancliffe to marry him.

As Mitchell explains it, “She says she needs more time and in the meantime, we’re running out of time. By the time she says yes, we’ll be so old we’ll need separate honeymoons.”

It so happens that chemist Mitchell has developed a little blue pill patented under the name “Venusia” after Venus, the goddess of love, to increase the libido in menopausal women. The pill hasn’t been tested. Yet.

Mary O’Donnell plays the prim Mrs. Stancliffe. Among her guests are Victoria Ambrose, played by Ariane Lieberman, a romance novelist whose personal life seems to be lacking in romance; Hillary Hudson, played by Darice Newmister, a friend of Henry’s who has agreed to test the Venusia; and Charmaine Beauregard, played by Jo Camlin, a “Southern belle” whose libido definitely does not need to be enhanced.

Inge Ebert directs the production. “It’s a crazy, funny play, but I don’t want to do a synopsis,” she said. “We don’t want to give everything away. But what it’s really about is when the women turn the tables on the men.”

Leave it to say that when the mix-up and mayhem settle down, all the women find their lives moving in new and surprising directions.

The two real life couples portraying the frolicking characters, the Newmisters and the O’Donnells, are enjoying their togetherness on stage. With the time consuming demands of rehearsal, they said, it is nice to share the time together.

It’s the first time, said Robbie O’Donnell, that he and his wife were cast as a romantic couple.

“Inge said we have good chemistry together. Married 41 years, it’s easy to show affection and we’re enjoying that connection,” he said.

Camlin, a Swamp Fox veteran, said the farce will resonate with audiences. “The wives will be punching their husbands and saying, ‘See!’ You’ll be chuckling the whole time,” she said.

Ebert particularly praised Newmister as Bud the Stud. “He’s playing it to the hilt. We all keep cracking up.”

The play’s spicy title may raise a few eyebrows, but sexual innuendos are PG. “No bad words or lewd acts,” Ebert said.

Ebert confided that the entire Swamp Fox cast viewed the Footlight Players production of “Sex Please We’re Sixty” in Charleston last winter. “It was a great hit!”

If you go

What: “Sex Please We’re Sixty” by Michael and Susan Parker

When: July 26-27, Aug. 2-3, 8-10 at 8 p.m. Aug. 4 and 11 at 2:30 p.m.

Where: Strand Theater, 710 Front St.

How much: $15. Call 527-2924 for reservations

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