Carol Lawrence, the original Maria of “West Side Story,” returns to the New York stage in the featured role of a cozy Israeli bubbe in “Handle With Care,” a new romantic comedy that opened this week at the Westside Theater following several regional incarnations. Frankly, it is not much of a part – nor is it all that much as a comedy – but the sunshiny Lawrence is an endearing presence. Three other attractive actors deliver able performances that further help to make the show at least a mild diversion.
Playwright Jason Odell Williams situates his story in a motel room in the Virginia boondocks. This where Terrence, a dimwit DHL Express guy, frantically summons Josh, his far smarter bud since childhood, to help him in an emergency. It seems that his delivery van was stolen and inside it is the body of an elderly tourist being shipped home to Israel for burial. The dead woman’s comely granddaughter Ayelet speaks little English. Since Josh is Jewish, Terrence hopes that he can best explain the “not lost, just misplaced” circumstances to the distraught Ayelet.
The scarcely observant Josh barely knows “shalom,” but with some help from Ayelet’s Hebrew-English translation guide, they manage to communicate.