59E59 Theaters, New York
If laughter really is the best medicine, “health plans should cover the ticket price” of this brisk little comedy, said Elisabeth Vincentelli in the New York Post. Part light romance and part satire of greedy drug companies, Kate Fodor’s story is kickstarted by the fictional drugmaker Schmidt Pharma. Executives at the firm have determined that it’s more lucrative to invent new illnesses than to cure existing ones, and their new drug is aimed at alleviating workplace depression—a condition traced to a chemical imbalance that we’re told “manifests itself during the workday.” Such a drug would clearly appeal to our “harried heroine,” Meena, a poet trapped in a soul-crushing job as piggeries editor for American Cattle & Swine magazine.
In this “smart, sweet play,” the love story never takes a backseat to the satire, said Charles Isherwood in The New York Times. When Meena volunteers to participate in a trial of the drug, she strikes up a rapport with the slightly depressed doctor who’s administering it. Their relationship deepens, only to fizzle when Meena starts to feel the satisfaction-boosting effects of the pills, leaving Phil determined to alleviate his heartbreak with additional pharmaceuticals. This leads to “a few borderline fantastical twists” in Fodor’s plot, but mostly the playwright nicely balances her jabs at Big Pharma with an astute feel for the ups and downs of “the little people” who look to the industry for help.
The cast has a similarly easy touch, said Marilyn Stasio in Variety. Marin Hinkle, of TV’s Two and a Half Men, makes Meena “a delicate creature with a fragile ego,” while Stephen Kunken’s young doctor seems “as trustworthy as a boy scout,” even as he carries out Schmidt Pharma’s questionable project. Both characters are “so warmly drawn” that we root for the romance from beginning to end. Rx won’t bring down Big Pharma, but it’s “more than a trifle.” It’s also “ideal entertainment for neurotic people living in anxious times.”