Review: Academy Award-winning actress Patty Duke and KHON2’s Joe Moore star in Heaven Forbid! at Hawaii Theatre
June 26, 2013
As a fan of Duke, Moore asked her to play a leading role in Heaven Forbid!, an adaptation of Michael Aitkens' British sitcom series Waiting for God. Moore worked with playwright Aitkens on turning the series into a stage play with a lighter tone.
"I contacted Michael in London and asked his permission to adapt some of my favorite material from his teleplays into an American stage play to be performed as a benefit for Hawaii Theatre, also writing a few lines of my own," Moore told us in an email. "He agreed, and, after telling me he liked what I'd done with the adaptation, he offered to sweeten a few of his original lines from the series and add some new material. The result of our collaboration is Heaven Forbid!"
Patty Duke plays Elizabeth Fredricks, a feisty old woman and a former a photojournalist who ended up at the Ocean View Retirement Home outside Ridgely, New Jersey. She complains about how the elderly are treated (she prefers “elderly” over “senior citizen”) and she is a constant nuisance to the retirement home’s manager.
Duke is phenomenal in her performance as an independent, cynical, old grouch—you’ll barely notice she’s acting. Duke is a pro (after all, she starred in The Patty Duke Show and won an Oscar for her portrayal of Helen Keller in The Miracle Worker).
Joe Moore is funny as Barney Winston, Elizabeth's newest neighbor. Barney is a jolly old man who is Fredricks' polar opposite. He’s upbeat, she’s down. He's laid back, she's uptight. Barney keeps calling Elizabeth, “Liz.” “It’s E-liz-a-beth,” she keeps correcting him. Still, Barney continues to call her, “Liz.” It’s like watching The Odd Couple—there’s plenty of bickering.
Joe Moore brings a lot of energy to his character. You’ll hardly recognize the familiar news anchor on stage with his grayed hair and no glasses. It's hilarious watching him introduce himself to his new neighbor—he coughs loudly and even does the gorilla dance. She barely even notices his presence. But after helping each other out in tight situations, they develop a friendship and a steamy romance.
Leave the kids at home; this is a show intended for adults. Younger adults who can handle such humor might enjoy the show, too. Otherwise, the old people humor is a delicious cringe-fest.
Still, it’s worth seeing Duke’s live performance in Heaven Forbid! And you’ll get a few laughs from Moore’s monkey dance.
$32-$72, 7 p.m. June 26-29; 2 p.m. June 29-30, Hawaii Theatre Center, 1130 Bethel St., 528-0506, hawaiitheatre.com.