Olive and the Bitter Herbs
Olive and the Bitter Herbs is a play at 59 e 59 with a relatively talented cast that includes Julie Halston and Richard Masur. The story centers on a woman of a certain age who’s living by herself, and she’s just cranky as the very dickens. There seems to be a mysterious lover who appears as an apparition in her mirror, whose name is Howard, and it turns out by the second act that everybody, including the next door neighbors who are both gay, the friendly grandfather figure who is the father of the president of her co-op board, and her cheerful assistant all have something to do with Howard. My problems with this play are: 1. Basically, you didn’t need the first act, and 2. Having the protagonist so incredibly unpleasant is very hard to watch for two hours. So the performance was okay. The audience liked it because there are a lot of one-liners in it, would we expect any less from Charles Busch, but what it adds up to is not much, and it could’ve been shorter. It could’ve been 90 minutes with only the second act. We didn’t need any of the exposition in the first act, and maybe slightly fewer gags and slightly more character development. Two stars.