Harlingen theater presents ‘An Old Lady’s Guide to Survival’

HARLINGEN — Netty Greene can’t see.

Sphrintzy can’t remember.

Together, they become each other’s eyes and ears in a colorful play called “An Old Lady’s Guide to Survival” opening tomorrow night at the Harlingen Community Theater.

“It’s a two-character play where two 80-plus-year-old women help each other out,” said Carol Kent, 60, who plays Sphrintzy.

She and Randi Lappin, who plays Netty, have been preparing for the performance since last month, serving as both directors and actors.

“They start out pretty much as strangers,” Kent said. “They’re familiar with each other but they don’t know each other. They help each other out during the course of the play. It’s funny, but it’s also very poignant.”

Lappin, 51, has enjoyed getting into the character of Netty Greene.

“I get to be kind of crotchety,” Lappin said. “I get to channel who I think I’m gonna be when I get old. I suspect that’s the way I’m gonna be.”

Her challenge has been getting into the character of someone suffering from retinal degeneration.

“She’s an 82-year-old Jewish woman who is now living in San Diego,” Lappin said. “She’s widowed five years and going blind, and so that’s what she’s coping with right now. And of course she lives alone and how is that going to work for her.”

She and Sphrintzy meet at a bus stop. Netty’s not looking for help but she needs it and Sphrintzy comes to her aid. Sphrintzy, incidentally, is struggling with Alzheimer’s. This has also challenged Kent.

“She has memory issues, so she just pulls things out of nowhere,” Kent said. “One minute she’s talking about her husband, the next minute she’s asking if her friend wants some candy.”

Lappin and Kent have worked closely together preparing for the performance.

“She and I have just been kind of doing it together which for a two-character play works very well,” she said.

“She makes suggestions to me, I make suggestions to her. If we have a disagreement about what the set should look like, we just sit down and talk about it. There’s nobody else but us to make the decisions, which is kind of nice.”