Side Effects May Include Review – Dark Comedy Illuminates Difficult Choices, Heartwarming Devotion

Since Side Effects May Include was written by Seinfeld writer Marc Jaffe and Emmy nominee Eric Coble, we had good reason to expect that a sensitive subject—in this case, a heartbreaking but very frank exploration of Parkinson’s disease—will be handled with just the right touch.  Just the right amount of honesty and just the right amount of courageous humor to make it possible to laugh at this decidedly not-funny dilemma. Only a Seinfeld veteran could pull this off.  And he did.

How? By showing us ever so deftly that it's not the disease that changes us.  It's the side effects.

“Phil,” brilliantly played by Andrew J. Pond, is a middle-aged stand-up comedian, living a typical, more-or-less happy married life (the wife's sex drive is waning):  They have a little girl they dote on, Phil’s wife is a gynecologist and he’s doing OK with his comedy gigs.

Pond with one of many pill bottles

Phil is chastened when he learns that a diminished sex drive is the least of his worries compared to the complexities of Parkinson’s disease and becomes a compassionate, sensitive husband and father. It’s a tall order, but not without many light-hearted, sweet moments counterbalanced by withering realities and magnanimous sacrifices. 

Pond under the sheet

Pond relates this seesaw of a tale without missing a beat.  Remember: this is a one-man show.  It is totally up to him to make or break it.  He is a storyteller par excellence.  He plays Phil, and other characters including Phil’s wife, daughter and rabbi..  From a two-room set—a bedroom filled with an impossible quantity of pill bottles and a stand-up comedy stage––he manages to paint a pictures of life with side effects.  The side effects of the disease (good and bad), much more than the side effects of the medicine, are the heart of this heartfelt comedy.  

Marc Jaffe

Based on Jaffe’s own bittersweet experience dealing with his wife’s Parkinson’s diagnosis, SIDE EFFECTS MAY INCLUDE is a “don’t miss” theater experience unlike any you’re likely to encounter.  And, as if that’s not enough, you’ll be doing something good by going. MadKap Productions will be donating 10% of the proceeds from SIDE EFFECTS MAY INCLUDE  to Shaking with Laughter, an organization that was set up by Marc and Karen Jaffe in support of the Michael J. Fox Foundation.  According to the Michael J. Fox Foundation,Marc Jaffe has approached his difficult topic and his family’s private challenges with humor and a sense of optimism. And those are two attributes that all of us at the Michael J. Fox Foundation particularly prize.”Parkinson's disease is a chronic, degenerative neurological disorder with symptoms that can progress from mild tremors to complete physical incapacitation. In theUnited States, 60,000 new cases of will be diagnosed this year alone. While the average age of onset is 60, an estimated five to 10 percent of people with Parkinson’s experience onset at age 40 or younger.

Until February 10

SIDE EFFECTS MAY INCLUDE stars Andrew J. Pond as “Phil Rosen.” 

The artistic team for SIDE EFFECTS MAY INCLUDE, led by director Wayne Mell, Artistic Director for MadKap Productions is:

Set Design--Robert D. Estrin

 Sound Design––Bob Boxer

Lighting Design ––Kirk Stateler

Producer––Wendy Kaplan

Photo:Brandon Dahlquist

Tickets:

The regular schedule is Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m. Ticket prices range from $20.00 for students/seniors and groups to $25.00 for general admission. For tickets, call the Greenhouse Theater Box Office at 773.404.7336 or visit www.greenhousetheater.org. The Box Office is open Wednesdays through Saturday from noon to 8 p.m. and Sundays from noon to 4 p.m.

 

Production Photos: Scott Richardson

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