Haunting Women Take Center Stage in Neil Simon’s “Jake’s Women” at Citadel Theatre

This off-beat comedy bears the master’s signature—one liners and sassy repartee.

But most of the action takes place inside Jake’s head.

Chuck Quinn gives a vigorous performance as the alternately manic and befuddled Jake, an author experiencing a mid-life crisis and facing the break-up of his second marriage. In addition to creating his fictional characters, he’s constantly thinking of the women in his life, who then appear, but only he can see them.

He has plenty of women—his second wife, Maggie, played with grace by Lucinda Johnston; his sister Karen, played by Claudia Vasilovik, who got the most laughs of the evening; his psychiatrist played by Maggie Cain; his daughter Molly at age 21, Erin O’Shea; and at age 12, a part taken by both Elita Ernsteen and Annie Hartman; his first wife, Julie, who died at age 35, given a touching performance by Jessica London-Shields; and his girlfriend Sheila, played with fine comic timing by Susan Steinmeyer.

Director Richard Shavzin doesn’t get as many laughs as the script suggests, but one scene is worth it all. Jake is alone with Sheila, when he suddenly thinks of Maggie, who appears, but only to him. The antics in this short, delightful show drew spontaneous applause at its conclusion.

“Jake’s Women” runs through Feb. 27. Citadel Theatre is located on the west campus of Lake Forest High School on Waukegan and Westleigh Roads. For tickets call 847-735-8554 or visit citadeltheatre.org.