Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Sukie and Sue: Their Story

Presented by The Blank Theatre

Review by Andrew Moore

Maybe if we got a little high, we could come up with a solution to our problems. Left to right: Lindsey Broad (Sukie), Rae Foster(Sue), and Lenny Jacobson (Sal)

Sukie and Sue: Their Story will not change your life, and that's okay.  The Blank Theatre has produced a delightful diversion, a ridiculous excursion into the high times of a couple of nurses who have a slight demon-possession problem.  The laughs are ample and the cast gleefully tackles Michael John Lachiusa's absurd new comedy.

Lindsay Broad (Sukie) is adorable, making the most of a character that is perhaps not as well-developed on the page as is her titular counterpart.  Lenny Jacobson brings a wonderful goofiness as Sukie's boyfriend (and dealer) Sal.  The rest of the ensemble shines:  Eddie Driscoll and Mackenzie Phillips in particular deliver up quirky, nuanced performances as Father Canary and the mystical Barbara, respectively.

Sue (Rae Foster, right) is about to do unspeakable things to Sal's (Lenny Jacobson, left) big toe.

Rae Foster (Sue) owns her stage.  Her comedic instincts are keen and she is fearless in her choices, even when those choices take her all the way down to Lenny Jacobson's big toe.  Sue is at times physically and emotionally drained and at times manic and on the verge of breakdown.  Foster navigates this emotional life with a wry sense of humor that never overstates itself.  She commits fully to Sue's reality, but the actress "gets" this character.  It's a joy to watch her play.

Kirsten Sanderson ably directs the cast, and there are some truly genius moments of physical comedy.  There are a few unmotivated blocking choices as well, but that's hard to fault -- the characters do spend the better part of the play high, and if it's one thing this reviewer has learned, potheads sometimes walk around aimlessly.  The only big issue I have are the clumsily executed transitions.  It seems an easy thing to fix:  a little more blackout, and perhaps bringing on a stagehand to swivel the counters in and out as needed. (This is nit-picking, and the kind of thing that probably only bothers a person who is watching the show with a critical eye.)

I can't help but feel that Michael John Lachiusa's script needs another draft.  Sukie is not as well defined as Sue, and it would be nice to see how she brings her job home with her.  Perhaps she babies Sue or Sal.  The  ending is a little long and a little pat.  After the rousing and riotous end of the prior scene, it's a bit anticlimactic.  To top it off, a hitherto unseen character makes an appearance in order to (literally) deliver the play's button, yet this character is not, herself, particularly revelatory.  In other words, there's not a strong reason why it has to be her.  The priest could have initiated the final tableau, or one of the other nurses.  There has to be a more economic, more impactful way of achieving the same effect.

Technical Director Stephen Weston delivers on the special effects.  In concert with Stephanette Isabel Smith's lights and Warren Davis' sound design, the compelling illusion of a demon-possessed Raggedy Ann Doll manifests before our eyes and ears.

But is it worth $26-$30 dollars?  Is it uncouth for a reviewer to review the ticket price?  Maybe, but here goes.  I know The Blank has expenses, and the rigging of the special effects was not cheap.  But this is an evening of light fare; a pleasing trifle, and I believe it is priced at about twice what it should be.  I hate to be crass, but maybe The Blank does a lot of business via Goldstar -- the show is listed there, and perhaps, like many other companies, they inflate their ticket price so that the Goldstar discount doesn't cut too deep.  Maybe.  I don't know.  What I do know is that this is a $13-$15 delightful evening of theatre.

Sukie and Sue: Their Story will haunt you Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 8:00 pm; Sundays at 2:00 pm through June 3rd..  Admission is $26 Thursdays and Sundays, $30 on Fridays and Saturdays.  Tickets are available online at www.TheBlank.com, or by calling (323) 661-9827, but this reviewer recommends checking Goldstar.  Valet parking is available for the evening performances, but if you get there a little early, you should be able to find street parking.

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