Social Security – Review by Bonnie Goldberg

Ernest Ackerman, a retired motorman from Cleveland, Ohio, became the first person ever to receive a check, on August 16, 1935 for Social Security. He was lucky enough to retire one day after the Social Security program began and he received a check for a whopping 17 cents. Today millions of Americans rely on this monthly check to live on, for food, rent and sundries. One of those women is Sophie Greengrass who is fortunate enough to live with her daughter Trudy and her accountant husband Martin on Long Island. She also is lucky enough to have another daughter Barbara and her successful art gallery owning husband David who are more than willing to write a check for mama’s care and comfort…as long as she doesn’t invade their luxurious Manhattan apartment and disturb their lovely life style.

The Connecticut Cabaret Theatre in Berlin is inviting you to get up close and personal with these families as critical issues are discussed and radical changes are being made, weekends until Saturday, September 22 when Andrew Bergman’s frantic family comedy “Social Security” comes to call. The Avon Lady or the Fuller Brush Man would have been more welcomed.

With an ominous phone call that there is “something to discuss,” sophisticated art gallery owners David (Chris Brooks) and Barbara Kahn(Rachel West-Balling) have the disconcerting sense that their smooth, witty, and well ordered lives are about to irrevocably change. How different they are from the Mineola, Long Island branch, her uptight sister Trudy (Carleigh Cappetta Schultz) and her staid accountant husband Martin (Tony Galli) who are content to be suburbanites, happily overprotecting their daughter Sarah and care taking of mama Sophie (Lori Feldman) at the same time.

So what could be so urgent as to make the stay-at-home Heymans leave their secure nest and venture into the big, bad Big Apple? The couple are the epitome of the “sandwich generation.” Not only do they have to handle all the capricious whims of Sophie, who is hard of hearing, leaves half eaten sour balls everywhere like in the toaster, and needs be catered to, they also have to contend with their only daughter Sarah who seemed to be off to college and becoming sexually active in a menage a trois off campus. What are concerned parents to do? Dump Sophie in Manhattan and fly to Buffalo to rescue Sarah, of course. The plan goes quickly awry when Barbara and David’s best artist client Maurice Koenig (Russell Fish) comes to dinner and meets Sophie in the flesh.

For tickets ($34) call the CT Cabaret Theatre, 31-33 Webster Square Road, Berlin at 860-829-1248 or online at Performances are Friday and Saturday nights at 8 p.m., with doors opening at 7:15 p.m. Bring your own goodies or plan to buy treats at the concession stand onsite.

Come discover what half eaten sour balls and gefilte fish have to do with the price of art and sanity when Sophie Greengrass invades Manhattan. Oy vey!