Charles Busch’s “Olive and the Bitter Herbs” at Primary Stages

I attended the matinee performance on Sunday.  Charles Busch's dramatic comedy, "Olive and the Bitter Herbs," takes a familiar stereotype, the elderly Jewish New York City stage & TV actress, and stands it on its head.  Marcia Jean Kurtz is fabulous in the lead role of Olive, who manages to antagonize almost everybody she meets, until some determined individuals can break through to establish a human connection.  I think that Richard Masur as the father of the co-op board president who befriends her and eventually woos her steals every scene he is in, and by the end of the show you are really rooting for him to succeed.  The entire ensemble cast – which also includes Julie Halston, David Garrison, and Dan Butler – enters into the spirit of things,and are well directed by Mark Brokaw.  I was particularly struck by the set, a marvelous recreation of a slightly cluttered Turtle Bay apartment conceived by Anna Louizos.   Primary Stages has a nice summer entertainment here, which I greatly enjoyed.

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