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White lie turns into real whopper in Off Broadway Palm’s ‘Right Bed, Wrong Husband’


Right Bed Wrong Husband 01Researchers from University College London have found that little white lies invariably lead to real whoppers because they desensitize our brains to the negative emotions connected with Right Bed Wrong Husband Promo 1fibbing. That’s exactly what happens to Ted and his friends in Neil and Caroline Shaffner’s Right Bed, Wrong Husband, a farce in three acts that’s on stage at the Off-Broadway Palm through July 29.

Young Ted’s parents are dead, and mom left her estate for him in a trust that’s administered by her brother. But Right Bed Wrong Husband Promo 7Uncle Martin is a tightfisted old skinflint who’s only willing to dole out $100 per week for his nephew’s support and maintenance – or roughly $550 in today’s money. With a house on the beach, a penchant for entertaining house guests, a full-time maid and no visible means of support, it’s not enough. Rather than find employment, Ted gets his uncle to double his allowance to $1,100 per week by telling him he’s married.

Right Bed Wrong Husband Promo 8But then, eager to meet Ted’s new bride, Uncle Martin drops in on Ted on the way to South America on business.

Ted has justified that little white lie to himself and his friends. Anticipating those J.G. Wentworth commercials popular today, it’s his money and he wants it now. Besides, he is engaged and would have already been married except that his fiancée won’t say “I do” until her daddy gives them his blessing and he’s in Europe on an extended business trip. But now that his amygdala (that’s the part of the brain associated with emotion) has been desensitized to lying, Ted is predisposed to concoct bigger and bolder half-truths and untruths. In his desperation to preserve his stipend, he persuades his helpful-Hannah Right Bed Wrong Husband Promo 5maid (her name’s actually Myra) and house guests, Evelyn and Claude, to become co-conspirators in the growing subterfuge that takes on hilarious proportions when Uncle Martin mistakes Evelyn for Ted’s wife, awakening the little green monster in Evelyn’s sexually-dormant husband, Claude.

You can probably already envision how this is going to turn out, but the fact that the plot’s painfully predictable actually works to the play’s advantage. At last Wednesday night’s performance, audience members found themselves shouting out what was about to happen next. Howls of unrestrained laughter then erupted when the characters did exactly what the audience anticipated they’d do.

Right Bed Wrong Husband Promo 4It’s the same phenomenon that explains why we chuckle, chortle and guffaw watching reruns of Everyone Loves Raymond, The Big Bang Theory, and Parks & Recreation that we’ve seen dozens of times before. It’s as if it’s funnier because we’re in on the joke!

In fact, if you’re a fan of television sitcoms, you’ll love Right Bed, Wrong Husband. The actors are so close to the audience that it feels like the action is taking place right in your own living room. It follows the same three-scene arrangement that’s built into every Right Bed Wrong Husband Promo 6sitcom. The intermission is just long enough to allow you to run to the bathroom and stop by the bar for an adult beverage of soft drink. And the play follows the time-honored “beginning, muddle and end” format we’ve come to know and love.

As the play’s title promises, the fun starts in earnest in Act Two when it’s time for everyone to go to bed. Uncle Martin (played to the hilt by Michael Weaver) naturally expects his nephew (James Putnam) to go to bed with Evelyn (Lauren Tepper), but Evelyn’s real husband, Claude (Logan Wolfe) has other plans. Right Bed Wrong Husband 02One of the funniest scenes in the entire play occurs when Claude crawls in Ted’s bedroom widow and, expecting to find his wife, does an hysterically macho striptease only to discover that Uncle Martin has taken her place in Ted’s bed.

Ted’s bedroom is busier than a Trailways bus station, as Evelyn discovers to her dismay when Ted’s drunken neighbor, Hubert, crawls through the window looking for a soft place to crash. Hubert binge drinks when his mother-in-law comes to visit, and Ted lets him sleep it off in his crib, but poor Evelyn doesn’t know that. Hubert’s only on stage a couple of times, but he steals the show each time. It’s small wonder. Paul Bernier leaves the director’s chair to play the part. He’s a formidable presence.

None of the characters are deep or particularly well-developed, but Uncle Martin may be the most curious of them all. For a guy who is supposed to be a smart businessman and the no-nonsense fiduciary of his sister’s estate, he sure seems to fall for every one of Ted and company’s fabrications, prevarications, and out-and-out lies. He takes being duped to an Olympic level, but that may be because he’s easily distracted by a pretty face … or in this case, the three pretty faces belonging to Lauren Tepper (Evelyn), Kira Galindo (Myra) and Jessie Taylor (Ruth).

Those researchers at University College London didn’t say whether a person’s amygdala can be rehabilitated once a person practices to deceive, but one thing’s for certain. After the laughter and hilarity subside, Right Bed, Wrong Husband will make you think twice the next time you’re tempted to tell a little white lie.

June 23, 2017.


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