Review: Assisted Living (Profiles Theatre)

| November 11, 2011
Assisted Living - Profiles Theatre       
Assisted Living 

Written by Deirdre O’Connor 
Directed by Joe Jahraus 
at The Second Stage, 3408 N. Sheffield (map)
thru Jan 15 Feb 19  tix: $35-$40  |  more info

Check for half-price tickets 
        Read entire review


Now extended through February 19th!!

Strong performances, directing can’t overcome stagnant story


Assisted Living cast - Profiles Theatre

Profiles Theatre presents
Assisted Living

Review by Katy Walsh 

My mom used to have a bright yellow Volkswagon.  She loved her Bug with the daisy in the flowerholder.  The car was the Herbie’s cheerful grandma version.  Driving it was like being in a 1950’s sitcom.  Strangers would wave.  In parking lots, kids would come up and talk to it.  So, when mom traded it in, it was a surprise.  Her decision was based on the increasing debilitation of her friends.  As her cronies lost mobility and husbands, mom wanted to be of assistance.  She purchased a bright yellow PT Cruiser to drive the carpool in comfort.  For me, it was amusing until I realized the widows were her age.        

Profiles Theatre presents the world premiere of Assisted Living.  Forty-something Anne needs help.  She lives with her mom.  Her mother suffers from dementia.  When mom bites the caretaker, Anne needs to find a replacement.  Levi is looking for a job.  He’s a quirky, young thing.  In the interview, he admits to being a recovering alcoholic with no real experience.  Anne wants her brother to take part in the decision but Jimmy’s a no-show.  Feeling desperate and alone, Anne hires Levi.  He provides much needed relief but with complications.  Oh, and Jimmy is finally home… for good.  Assisted Living is a mild dose of reality.

Playwright Deirdre O’Connor has penned a relatable tale.  Dealing with an aging parent is an issue facing every adult child.  Issues with *the help* and siblings is a compromising inevitability.  I get it from a real standpoint.  I just don’t engage with it as an audience member.  O’Connor’s premise is Lifetime movie-esque without the edgy drama.  It’s interesting but stagnant.  Under the direction of Joe Jahraus, the ensemble do embrace their roles.  But O’Connor’s characters are pretty simplistic and one dimensional.  Stacy Stoltz (Anne) is the uptight lead.  Stoltz has the required intensity but only snippets of vulnerability.  She connects with Jordan Stacey (Levi) but it’s not palpable why he connects to her.  An endearing Stacey charms.  I would definitely… hire him!  Stacey burrows his way into the household with a slightly creepy vibe.  Who is he?  I want to know more…about everybody.  All the characters could use some extra depth.

The focal point of the show is really the sibling relationship: Stolz and Layne Manzer (Jimmy).  Stolz and Manzer do a fine job.  It’s just not emotionally grabbing.  It’s complicated but not really.  Frankly, it’s listless when the subject matter has the potential to be poignantly haunting. As people live longer, today’s certainties are death, taxes AND aging parents.  O’Connor has brought up a thought-provoking topic.  With some assistance, Assisted Living could become a life-changing conversation.

Rating: ★★½

Assisted Living continues through December 18th January 15th February 19th at Second Stage, 3408 N. Sheffield (map), with performances Thursdays and Fridays at 8pm, Saturday at 5pm and 8pm, and Sundays at 5pm.  Tickets are $35-$40, and are available by phone (773-549-1815) or online at (check for half-price tickets at More information at time: one hour and forty minutes with no intermission)




Stacy Stoltz (Anne), Layne Manzer (Jimmy), Jordan Stacey (Levi), Shannon Hollander (Christina)

behind the scenes

Joe Jahraus (director); David Ferguson (set); Bekki Lambrecht (lights); Jeffrey Levin (sound, original music); Erica Griese (costumes); Fernando Alvarez (stage manager)


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Category: 2011 Reviews, Katy Walsh, New Work, Profiles Theatre, Second Stage Theatre, World Premier

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