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Defying Expectations

Fine actors turn a dated comedy about psychotherapy into something worth seeing

But she's also frighteningly self-possessed. Before long, the mad old lady starts to look like a literary genius. As a self-proclaimed philistine, Henny kvetches at her son's intellectual reading habits. But when faced with new information about Scooper's love life, Mankin laps up the details like absorbing the pages of a great novel. Light seems to radiate out of her useless eyes and she grins with excitement and girlish expectation. Finally, we come to see Henny as more than a reader. She may be an author, too. "You are my book," she says to Scooper near the end of the play. Mankin utters each of these words with the simplicity and sobriety of someone who understands the world profoundly. Suddenly, Guare's dated little play about psychotherapy hits us in the gut.

Bosoms and Neglect
David Allen
Bosoms and Neglect

Details

Written by John Guare. Directed by Joy Carlin. Starring Beth Wilmurt, Joan Mankin, and Cassidy Brown. Though July 22 at Aurora Theatre, 2081 Addison (at Shattuck), Berkeley. Tickets are $38; call 510-843-4822 or visit www.auroratheatre.org

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One of the things I like best about the theater is its capacity to surprise me. As Bosoms and Neglectproves, my expectations are as likely to be met as they are blatantly defied.

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