2 Women Avoiding Involuntary Hospitalization
On the Boards, 217-9888. Through Jan 28.

PERIMENOPAUSAL WOMEN Nancy and Patti (played coincidentally by the perimenopausal women Nancy Cranbourne and Patti Dobrowolski) have signed up for the "3rd Annual Celebration of the Perimenopausal Woman" at Camp Singing Pines where other perimenopausal women (also played by the perimenopausal Nancy and Patti) are also signed up to explore their... well... their perimenopausalness. If you think this last sentence pounded you over the head, you wouldn't survive five minutes of this well-intentioned but maddeningly simple-minded and heavy-handed "comedy."

Here's the whole thing in a nutshell. Dobrowolski and Cranbourne quickly find that the retreat (for which they have both shelled out $1,500) is not the relaxing spa advertised in the brochure, but a degrading New Age boot camp. After innumerable indignities, they lock the retreat leaders in a dry cellar, and, in a self-congratulatory burst of positivity, reschedule a whole bunch of empowering workshops and an uplifting "Hormonal Cabaret." The only thing feel-good about this contrived musical finale is that by the time it finally lurches around, it brings this two-hour-long concoction of cheap schtick and earnest talk about breast lumps to a merciful close.

Hey, don't get me wrong, this play doesn't fail because it's about aging and women's sexuality. I'm not getting any younger myself, and I'd love a little feminist levity about vaginal dryness to inform and uplift me as I journey down menopause lane. 2 Women Avoiding Involuntary Hospitalization fails because Dobrowolski and Cranbourne mug like freshman acting majors at a rural community college; because, in the words of the squirming boy I brought along, "This show has more blackouts than my 20s"; and because merely uttering the phrases "tofu-surprise" or "animal totem" was vaguely amusing... a decade ago. But most glaringly, this play fails because Dobrowolski and Cranbourne tell us what they are about to tell us, then tell us, and then really drive the point home by telling us what they just told us. And nothing puts me on the verge of walking out during intermission more than having my intelligence insulted--over and over and over again.