Sarasota Jewish Theatre looks at aging through eyes of a comedy legend

Larry Gelbart is best known for turning “M*A*S*H” into a hit television series that blended witty and ribald humor with a serious look at the dangers of war.

He did something similar in his play “Better Late,” which has its local debut at the Sarasota Jewish Theatre.

“It’s got the balance of the serious and the comic,” said director Carolyn Michel. “In ‘M*A*S*H’ the doctors were operating on people while telling jokes, de-stressing themselves from the horrors of war. In this play, it’s about aging in a family in a wonderful and complicated way. It has serious issues with an overlay of witty dialogue and also some serious dialogue. Essentially, it is about finding better ways we can all love and care for each other.”

In the play, Nellie O’Brien plays Nora, who has been married for 20 years to her second husband, Lee (played by Don Walker). Lee is a get-along kind of guy and he agrees when Nora asks if they can take in her first husband, Julian (Lee Gundersheimer), while he recovers from a stroke. Julian is not the most pleasant person to be around in the best of circumstances.

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