Charley Millhouse (Dane Rhodes) walks into his living room and sits on the couch. "Nothing ventured, nothing gained," he mutters before swallowing a pill. Immediately, he looks down to see if he's got a hard-on.
This is the first visual gag in Viagara Falls, and it gets the first laugh in an evening that rollicks merrily — often more boisterously than the material seems to merit. The hilarity is a tribute to poised performances and T. J Castronovo's sure-handed direction.
The play by Joao Machado and Lou Cutell takes its cues from Neil Simon. Ordinary New Yorkers struggle with familiar dilemmas and pepper their dialogue with one-liners. We have all seen the outpouring of TV ads featuring senior citizens with the lineaments of gratification. Viagara Falls is the nut-case version of those idealized intimacies.
Charley and Moe (David Jacobs) are widowers in their 70s who have been best friends since they were in the Korean War. Charley opens a letter addressed to Moe informing him he has incurable cancer, but Charley doesn't share it. Moe bursts in carrying a birthday cake with candles aflame and a balloon to celebrate his buddy's birthday.
They have been content with simple pleasures, but Charley is up for an adventure. He will induce Moe to take Viagra, and they will hire two call girls for a night of revelry. He spends most of the first act trying to get Moe to consent. They both speak to the spirits of their dead wives, hoping for guidance and forgiveness.
In Act 2, Jacqueline Tempest (Cindy Marinangel) arrives in a red corset. She is in her 30s and works for pussycatsforoldermen.com. A second hooker got busted on the way over, but the men don't have enough money for both of them anyway. Off-color humor abounds, but Jacqueline, Moe and Charley form an odd friendship, and although it is Charlie's birthday, he is determined that Moe enjoy an unforgettable last hurrah.
Viagara Falls is exceptionally well performed in spite of the script's bland raciness. Apparently some jokes never get old.
7:30 p.m. Fri.-Sat., Oct. 16-17; 2 p.m. Sun., Oct. 18
Teatro Wego, 177 Sala Ave., Westwego, 885-2000; www.jpas.org