Center Stage with Pat Launer on KSDS JAZZ88
“The Hit” – Lamb’s Players Theatre
AIRDATE: JUNE 13, 2008
To subvert an old expression, A Miss is as good as a smile. Try these ‘misses’ on for comic size: mistaken identity; miscommunication; misplaced mail, missed messages and misguided plans.
The world premiere at Lamb’s Players Theatres isn’t a miss at all; it’s a hit – called “The Hit” – a deliciously light, fluffy, cotton-candy summer treat. Leave your heavy thoughts and ponderous ideas at home; just sit back and enjoy.
At the center of the action is Susan, a perky antiques dealer who thinks the best way to deal with her dire new diagnosis is to hire a hitman and get it all over with fast. But life and fate have other plans for her. She meets a man; her younger brother shares youth, taste and snappy repartee with an off-the-wall mystery-woman. Sales may be slow at the shop but the quirky characters – loons and looky-loos – just keep comin ’. And some of them may wind up staying for life.
“The Hit” is the brainchild of Mike Buckley, who’s got a pretty creative, multi-faceted mind. And this production gives him the opportunity to flaunt his multiple talents: he wrote the smart, witty play, designed the extravagant set, master-minded the elaborate props and he plays a leading role. And he does an exemplary job at all four. Oh yes, he’s also a skilled lighting designer and a very credible singer, but he doesn’t get to exercise those abilities here.
Onstage, he’s smitten by Cynthia Gerber, who’s delightful as the vexed and frazzled central character. They’re part of an excellent ensemble — some using wild accents, a fractured Slavic language, multiple characterizations — and all contributing to the general mayhem and madcap moments that feel very much like farce, though there aren’t enough doorways to qualify.
Lamb’s artistic director Robert Smyth has used a light comic touch to foster crackerjack comic timing. The pace is brisk and bouncy; the writing is propulsive and intriguing. The set is a marvel – a two-level affair crammed with knickknacks, bric-a-brac and attic junk, much of which will be employed in riotous ways over the course of the show. Those floor-to-ceiling tchatchkes are fertile fodder for communicative breakdowns and communicative hilarity, as would-be shoppers recall sentimentally their grandmas, and the young college-age kids bound around the room finding objects that will add to their one-upping, side- splitting pun-fest. The lighting gives the shop a golden-rosy glow, and the quick-change costumes encourage additional laughs.
This show marks a couple of Lamb’s Players milestones: their 40th world premiere and 40th anniversary season. And starting July 2, they’ll be spreading the wealth even more, taking over the Horton Grand Theatre in the Gaslamp Quarter. In the meantime, you can take The Hit for the Lamb’s in Coronado .
“The Hit” runs through July 13 at Lamb’s Players Theatre in Coronado .
©2008 PAT LAUNER