Kicking The Hat at Arts West
Veteran Seattle actress Faye B Summers may not be a cockeyed optimist, but her solo show Kicking The Hat reveals an upbeat mindset and a quirky comic sensibility, both in performance and in Summer's script.
Summers, a fine actress and an able if inconsistent writer, developed this show for presentation with Seattle's late, lamented Group Theatre a few years back. Director Olga Sanchez has helped the star refine and develop her cross section of five women whose paths cross in a shopping mall. The most interesting of these are an elderly, but still lively, anarchist and a chipper, Southern-accented grocery checker with operatic aspirations; but all five of Summers' women are clearly delineated and differentiated, both in their words and in their characterizations.
There are intermittently successful uses of music in the show (well accompanied by musical director Paul Linnes), including two standards, "Rhapsody In Blue" and "Holiday for Strings," which are best known as instrumentals but here are outfitted with lyrics for the character of Bobbi Starr, an interpreter of instrumental music. But the show really soars when that Southern grocery checker performs excerpts from a wacky Italian opera. In this extended segment, Summers recalls such past and present comic spirits as Lucille Ball, Carol Burnett and Lily Tomlin. If the audience I saw the show with on day one of the Iraq war was a bit subdued, I could sense from them the welcome escape provided by Summers' antics.
Rex Carleton's set doesn't really suggest any mall I've ever been to, and Julia Logan Trimarco's dress for the star tries for eccentric but just looks tacky. These minor distractions aside, my hat is off to Faye B Summers for seeing her dream show through to fruition and sharing its considerable charms with the rest of us.
Kicking The Hat runs at ArtsWest, 4711 California Ave. S.W. in West Seattle, through March 29. Tickets are $10-24. For further information call 206-938-0339, or their web-site at www.ArtsWest.org.