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The Boston Globe

Theater & art

Stage Review

Rallying round a departing friend in ‘Life of Riley’

With “Life of Riley,” Zeitgeist Stage Company returns to the relationship comedy of British playwright Alan Ayckbourn, which it does so well. David J. Miller’s deft direction finds just the right blend of tragedy and hilarity in Ayckbourn’s play about three couples coping with the news of their mutual friend’s impending death. In a clever twist, the friend, George Riley, never appears onstage, but the havoc he wreaks on the others’ lives becomes fodder for great comic drama as they rally round. Of course, George has a reputation for being immature and irresponsible: One character describes him as a kind of hippie Peter Pan.

All of the people in George’s life are at low points in their marriages: Kathryn (Maureen Adduci), wed to dull doctor Colin (Peter Brown), has become a secret drinker; Tamsin (Shelley Brown) seethes as she waits for her husband, Jack (Victor Shopov), to end his latest affair; and George’s wife, Monica (Angela Smith), has left him for the stability of a taciturn farmer (Brooks Reeves).

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