Count ’em, four doors and two other entrances (set by Laura S. Brignull), and if they don’t exactly spell farce, they do imply the amusing potential of close calls.
And “amusing” is the right word to describe Lewis Black’s “One Slight Hitch,” now in a fine production at Curtain Call Theatre.
In fact, the first close call occurs early on, when father-of-the-bride Doc Coleman (Jack Fallon) slams the front door in the face of the bride-to-be’s former boyfriend, Ryan (David Cerutti), who appears unexpectedly on the wedding day. Now there’s a hitch, a hitch that might prevent Courtney Coleman (Erin Waterhouse) from getting hitched to Harper (Kevin Gardner, a superb last-minute replacement for another actor).
‘One Slight Hitch’
WHERE: Curtain Call Theatre, 210 Old Loudon Road, Latham
WHEN: Through Oct. 5
HOW MUCH: $23
MORE INFO: 877-7529 or www.curtaincalltheatre.com
Soon, Ryan, who fancies himself a 1980s Jack Kerouac, is hiding — in partial skivvies — from one family member or another: Courtney; her sisters, Melanie (Kristin Van Steemburg) and P.B. (Carolyn Shields); and Mrs. Coleman (Barbara Richards), whose hopes for the day’s wedding would, if she were asked, trump her hopes for world peace. However, by the end of Act I, everyone knows Ryan is in the house.
This being a comedy, everything turns out, though Black makes something more serious of Courtney’s final decision than I think he has prepared us for. He has also saddled Doc with a rather dumb scene at the front door.
But there are funny one-liners, sight gags and stereotypes (sarcastic sibling with a drinking problem, preoccupied Mom, earnest fiancé vs. dippy former beau, and put-upon Dad) to make the evening a pleasant diversion.
The cast works hard, and occasionally it shows. On Friday night, the stage business wasn’t always crisp (Richards at the bathroom door, for example), and a line or two went astray. But as the run progresses, these “slight hitches” will disappear because the ensemble is strong.
In his directorial debut, Gardner keeps the frantic pace up and the occasional tonal shifts clear.
Shields makes P.B. a savvy and winning Virgil, our adolescent guide to the circle of the underworld where wacky families live. Van Steemburg’s Melanie gets off zingers with aplomb and anchors a delightful scene in which she makes cocky Ryan squirm. Cerutti delivers on the goofy Ryan, a self-involved charmer who’s up for whatever the next moment holds. He and Fallon rev up the show with their energetic first encounter, and he and Gardner duel amusingly as shrink and patient.
The heavy lifting falls to the estimable Richards, whose Delia pops in and out just enough to keep the foolishness going. Richards does, however, shine in a few funny bits in Act II.
Waterhouse is incapable of a false note, almost finding depths where there really aren’t any in the script. She, Shields and Van Steemburg have a lovely and credible scene on the couch, a combination of good writing and excellent acting.
And finally, there’s CCT favorite Jack Fallon, an actor who throws himself into a role, pounces on it, seizes the moment and risks being completely silly in the service of the comic muse. He’s that good.
This show is the first of Curtain Call’s 14th season in Latham, a season featuring six regional premieres.