Asterisk by Jerome Weidman tries to be clever, but two of the principal actors weren't in on the game plan. Every Sunday, Seymour (Steve Cohen) arrives in gray suit and tie to visit his aging mother (Susie R. Goldberg) in her sparsely furnished Queens living room to convince her that her memory is going so that she will just "drop dead." He whines that if he leaves and she hasn't died, his wife will leave him by taking a train to Reno -- and he's serious. Unfortunately, it is Cohen who has lost his memory, making long pauses, stumbling over lines while prattling about how much he hates Momma but somehow "still loves her." The mother follows suit by mugging, uttering sarcastic comments (aiming for an over-the-top sensibility but somehow ending up under the top), and accusing her son of dating call girls, who call themselves his clients. The pair pace the stage, restless and seemingly without motivation. The dialogue in some sections could be cutting, but the timing is off, the energy is low, and the same story line becomes tedious and lacks continuity. Luckily, Griselda Patience (Kathryn Bain) saunters in with her English accent and roaming hands, a manipulator to easily match the scheming mother and son. She has just mysteriously dropped in from jolly ol' England to rent a room in the mother's house. Seymour is putty in her hands, and she has no problem controlling his mother either. With another month of rehearsal and a rewrite, Asterisk might be presentable; but, for now, the show is disappointing. (Through June 13 at the Tamarac Theater of Performing Arts, 7143 Pine Island Rd., 954-726-7898.) -- Rachel Galvin
The Gulf of Westchester: Deborah Zoe Laufer's biting satire about the war in Iraq hurtles along with such passion and intensity that it's breathtaking. Laufer doesn't get the gold at the finish line -- she cartwheels out of control well before that -- but her reckless bravado makes for the kind of agitprop, bare-knuckle theater that rarely makes an appearance on contemporary stages. Laufer's go-for-the-throat antiwar stance doesn't offer any new ideas, but Louis Tyrrell's flawless staging and inventive use of video sequences makes for an intriguing production. The outstanding cast features Kim Ostrenko as an icy pro-Bush housewife and Stephen G. Anthony as her back-slapping husband. (Through June 13 at Florida Stage, 262 S. Ocean Blvd., Manalapan, 561-585-3433, 800-514-3837.)
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