The funniest thing about Donald Margulies’ The Model Apartment now being revived by Primary Stages nearly 20 years after its Off Broadway debut (also, incidentally, by Primary Stages) is the set. From the popcorn ceiling to the indoor-outdoor carpeting, Lauren Halpern’s design is the pinnacle of Florida-condo-retiree chic. Wicker furniture? A gilded starfish tchotchke? As Max (Joel Blum) says upon entering: ''I’m telling you: these furnishings: tops.''
No disrespect, however, to Margulies’ script: The Model Apartment is probably the best Holocaust comedy you’ve ever seen. It’s almost certainly the only Holocaust comedy you’ve ever seen. And if the you think the phrase Holocaust comedy is disturbing, just wait until you see the show. Disturbing is just the start. Of course, that’s precisely why you should see it.
The play is set in the early 1980s, when Brooklynites Max and Lola (Kathryn Grody) have just completed their sojourn to the Sunshine State. Both lost family in WWII; both still vividly recall their days in the camps. Hard as they try, they can’t escape their past nor can they hide from their mentally disturbed, morbidly obese daughter, Debby (a slightly over-the-top Diane Davis), who unexpectedly turns up on their doorstep, followed shortly by her slow-witted lover Neil (Hubert Point-Du Jour). Cue the wall-shaking bathroom sex, which is not disturbing at all compared with the emotional hurricane that is Debby.
What comes out of her mouth a masterful Cuisinart blend of Max’s and Lola’s memories, Hitler-inspired fantasies, and pop culture references is equal parts horrifying and awe-inspiring. How Margulies conceived this nightmarish dream world I’ll never know. But I do know it’s one I’m not likely to forget. A–
(Tickets: 59e59.org or 212-753-5959)