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Review: On Theater: A lively game of mixed doubles

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Bill Paxson, Susan Levenstein, Harlene Miller and Greg Stokes bring Norm Foster’s comedy “The Long Weekend” to life at the Westminster Community Playhouse, which runs through Jan. 27.
(Photo by Krystyn Slack)

Marital shenanigans venture into uncharted waters in “The Long Weekend,” Norm Foster’s quirky comedy currently on stage at the Westminster Community Playhouse.

The scenario is tranquil enough — a prosperous couple invite a less-well-heeled pair to their new summer house for the weekend. What could possibly go wrong? Just about everything, including an extramarital tryst.

Max (Greg Stokes), the snarky host, is a lawyer of some renown and his wife Wynn (Harlene Miller) is a psychologist who writes self-help books. The guests are Abby (Susan Levenstein), a fashion designer, and Roger (Bill Paxson), who gave up teaching math to try his hand at writing fiction..

Directed by Chris Coleman, the production sparkles in the first act as the couples bounce well-placed zingers off each other with impressive marksmanship. Foster’s plot sags somewhat in the second when the situation, two years later, is changed.

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There’s tension between the two couples at the center of Norm Foster’s “The Long Weekend,” which director Chris Coleman brings to the Westminster Community Playhouse.
(Photo by Krystyn Slack)

The visitors, Roger and Abby, take the most accurate shots early on, while Max nourishes his insufferable ego, which brings out the competitive steeliness in Roger. Post-intermission, the sparks have dimmed somewhat, and the playwright’s shaky hand is more in view.

Paxson is skilled in bringing his character’s insecurities to the surface, particularly his petulance over a years-old bar tab. Levenstein’s facial reactions convey volumes of varying emotions, and her comic timing is splendid.

Stokes uses his character’s financial superiority to great advantage in his continuous one-upmanship battles with Paxson — his (and the play’s) closing line will mark a sharp, unexpected detour. Miller takes a lower-key approach to her situation and would benefit from an infusion of energy.

The inspired set design, by Coleman, Jaylyn Kahle and Michael Crumley, becomes an attractive fifth character in the story. Andrew Orris handles the sound and lighting requirements nicely.

“The Long Weekend” is a pleasant piece of theatrical comedy which should leave audiences chuckling at the Westminster Community Playhouse.

Tom Titus reviews local theater.

IF YOU GO

What: “The Long Weekend”

When: Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., Sundays at 2 p.m. through Jan. 27

Cost: $20 - $22

Call: (714) 893-8626, wcpstage.com