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NY Theater Reviews

Maxwell Caulfield, Jenni Barber, Lois Robbins and Anthony Reimer/ Ph: Carol Rosegg



Some plays don’t really need to be revived. Cactus Flower is one of them. 

Some plays don’t really need to be revived. Cactus Flower is one of them. Under the right circumstances, this dated 1960s comedy could potentially provide a solid dose of silly fun – rather like the recent Broadway revival of Boeing Boeing did. But as revived by Michael Bush, it comes off as long, labored and painfully unfunny.
The premise, which loosely inspired the recent Adam Sandler-Jennifer Aniston flick Just Go With It, involves heartthrob bachelor Julian (Maxwell Caulfield), a dentist who lied to his much younger girlfriend Toni (Jenni Barber) that he was married in order to make their romance more steamy. But things get irreparably messy once Toni decides that she wants to meet his wife before going any further. Julian, desperately in need of someone to pretend to be his wife, selects his stentorian receptionist Ms. Dickinson (Lois Robbins) for the role.
As you probably guessed, what follows is a series of farcical misunderstandings. In the end, Julian becomes increasingly frustrated, Ms. Dickinson comes out of her shell and Toni finds a new lover in the form of the cute starving playwright next door.
The set and costume designs certainly do give off an early 1960s vibe. And recordings of period hits like “Help,” “What the World Needs Now Is Love” and “What’s New Pussycat?” serve as a soundtrack. But something is wrong when the best parts of a play occur during the lengthy set changes.
Caulfield (the male lead of Grease 2) has a suave voice and physicality that suits the role of a Don Draper-style philanderer. But even he looks bored and tired.