FALMOUTH — Many people greet Hal Cohen with his courtesy title, “Dr. Cohen,” which is appropriate because Cohen is, in fact, a physician.
But he might prefer that you address him as “Mr. Playwright” instead. Cohen has co-written a play about sex and dating among older people, “Leonora Rabinowitz, I Love You.” It gets its debut at The Footlights Theatre in Falmouth beginning next week.
Cohen, whose practice is based at Southern Maine Health Care in Old Orchard Beach, took an improv class several years ago and followed that up with an acting class. He sharpened his skills enough to appear in a play by Acorn Productions. And in 2012, he took a playwriting class.
Now he has a play, co-written with actress Amanda Painter, who appears in “Leonora Rabinowitz” as an actress.
It’s about an older woman, who, five years after the death of her husband, has declined to get back into the dating scene, despite being urged to by her daughter, Her daughter, played by Painter, believes her mother is set in her ways and takes her to a see sex therapist. The play includes adult themes, salty language and simulated sex scenes, but there is no nudity.
Cohen directs the play.
It’s a comedy about a serious issue. Sex over 60 is a difficult subject for many people to address with friends, family or physicians, said Cohen, 58. There’s often a perception that if you are older than 60, you can’t be sexually active, he said. That’s obviously not true, and he wrote this play from his perspective in medicine to help generate discussion. “Even your gynecologist might not ask about your relationship,” Cohen said. “There is a disconnect with this core issue in so many people’s lives that no one wants to bring up.”
Cohen staged a one-act version of this play last year at PortFringe. It was well received, and Cohen was urged to expand it. He rewrote it, adding several scenes. It’s now a two-act, 90-minute minute play with a cast of four: Jackie Oliveri, Rachel Flehinger and Tommy Waltz, in addition to Painter.
Oliveri plays the mom, and Painter is the daughter. Flehinger is the sex therapist, and Waltz is a sex surrogate.
The play is set in Portland in contemporary times.
WHAT: ‘Leonora Rabinowitz, I Love You’
WHEN: Opens Feb 11, through Geb 27
WHERE:The Footlights Theatre, 190 U.S. Route 1, Falmouth
TICKETS & INFO: $18 adults,$15 students and seniors; pay what you can on Thursdays; 747-5434 or footlightsinfalmouth.com