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Invisible Theatre closes its season with a howler:

Charles Busch’s “Olive and the Bitter Herbs.”

Truth be told, we just assume it’s a howler.

Here’s why:

It’s the playwright

Busch burst onto the scene with the campy, over-the-top “Vampire Lesbians of Sodom.” That was 1984. It was just a little play he put together to amuse his friends at the Limbo Lounge in New York City. By the next year it had moved to an off-Broadway house and packed them in for five years. He followed that up with such gems as “Psycho Beach Party,” “Die, Mommie, Die!” and the one that made the mainstream stand up and take notice, “The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife.” It was his Broadway premiere (and the first of his works he did not star in — he is a drag queen extraordinaire and was often the leading lady in his plays) and it won him a Tony nomination. Busch isn’t shy about what he aims to do with his plays: he wants to make us laugh. And he madly succeeds at doing just that.

It’s the story

Olive Fisher is a bit long in the tooth, but she still holds on to her glory days when she appeared in a “Gimme the Sausage” commercial. She’s a grump, hates the world, and hates her next-door-neighbors even more. Then she sees an image in her mirror — and it isn’t her’s. This ghost-like figure sets Olive off on a journey that changes her life. But the changes are not without humor, of course.

It’s the cast

Speaking of laughs, Susan Claassen, Invisible Theatre’s managing artistic director, knows how to wring them out of every word. So it’s natural that she portray that old grouch, Olive. Director James Blair has assembled a supporting cast with the chops to back Claassen up: Eric Anson, David Alexander Johnston, Susan Kovitz and Jack Neubeck.


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