Monday, November 5, 2012

theatre review, ONE SLIGHT HITCH, George St. Playhouse, October 7

Mark Linn-Baker and Lizbeth Mackay
We've all seen our share of movies and plays that revolve around a wedding where the main plot point involves the former boyfriend/girlfriend of the person soon to be married coming to the wedding and breaking up the nuptials.  The new play One Slight Hitch, by comedian Lewis Black, takes that all too familiar plot and tries to change it up a bit.  The play just concluded a run at the George Street Playhouse yesterday and while it is a fairly humorous play, with several laugh out loud moments, it isn't that successful in its attempt to add anything new to something we've seen many times before.

Set in 1981 Cincinnati, the play really focuses on the parents of the bride, Doc and Delia Coleman, on the day their oldest daughter is to be married.  You see Doc and Delilah never had an elaborate wedding, so they plan to make sure their daughter Courtney gets the wedding they never had.  Of course the intense planning for the wedding turns Delia into a "Mom of Bridezilla" and with the arrival of Courtney's former boyfriend Ryan it throws that "one slight hitch" into the day that forces Doc to become a crazy man.  Add in their two other daughters who only add more insanity to the mix and Courtney's stoic fiance Harper and you end up with a comedy of errors, but one with an old-fashioned and warm center.

Mark Linn-Baker and Lizbeth Mackay are Doc and Delia and the two of them provide the required amount of zaniness to the parts.  Linn-Baker contributes a nice controlled craziness to the show that allows Mackay room to become even more humorous and zany as the play progresses.  But at the center of the play you always feel the required amount of warmth and love that a tight knit family exudes.  

Rosie Benton, Clea Alsip and Lauren Ashley Carter
 While the supporting cast is fine, only Lauren Ashley Carter as the youngest daughter, P.B. provided more then the requisite amount of depth to her character, in turn creating a touching portrayal of a teenager who isn't quite yet a woman but has left her childhood well behind.  Rosie Benton and Clea Alsip as the two older daughters Courtney and Melanie are well suited in their roles as are Christopher Tocco and Scott Drummond as Courtney's two suitors Ryan and Harper.

Black has created very different characters with their own distinct languages, something he should be praised for.  I also liked several running gags throughout the play, like how Doc and Delia are constantly mistakenly referring to Courtney's fiance by the name of her ex.  Doc's playing with the bride and groom cake toppers also adds a funny sight gag.  Delia's continual obsession with the shrimp boats for the reception and the on-going whereabouts of the florist only add to the smart and creative writing.  But it is Delia's second act monologue that is so lovingly written that completely makes you understand Delia's continual focus on making this wedding so special.  And while the ending of the play may not be exactly the way that so many similar plots like this end, it is also one that I saw coming about 10 or 15 minutes into the first act.  I'm not sure if Black should be commended for foreshadowing the ending so clearly, or if he should try to hide it a little better so it is a little more of a surprise.

Mark Linn-Baker and Christopher Tocco 
The play has a nice look and sound to it that ground us in that period, including the use of some funny early 80's pop tunes that the character of P.B. quotes and dances along to on her giant sized Walk Man, but other than that, the time period doesn't really add much to the play, so I'm not sure what the point was for Black to use 1981 as the setting.  And while set designer Bob Dahlstrom has created a nice and large playing space, including an open living room and large staircase, the overall design is more on the low end of regional theatre productions.  However, the use of an on-set bar also provides the characters with ample humorous opportunities to add a cocktail or three into the mix to try to make things seem just a little clearer.  Actor turned director Joe Grifasi keeps the action moving at a fast clip and uses the staircase and door to the bathroom for some funny bits, though the play never approaches out and out farce, which I believe was a wise choice on Grifasi and Black's parts since the warm center of the play might haven't shined through so nicely if it was played too much for over the top laughs. 

One Slight Hitch is the type of play that with the right leads provides a fun night out at the theatre, and while Black is adept at playwrighting the overall show comes across more as a live sitcom with a heart, then a thought provoking or game changing piece of drama.  While I believe the play will have a decent run in regional theatres based on Black's name alone, it comes across to me more like an average, run of the mill wedding, something that won't be remembered after a few days after the bride and groom say "I do."

Clips for the play with Mark Linn-Baker and Lewis Black talking about it:

No comments:

Post a Comment