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Seattle by David-Edward Hughes

One Slight Hitch Proves Slight Indeed at ACT Theatre

One Slight Hitch
R. Hamilton Wright and Marianne Owen
When it comes to slight yet satisfying comedic plays, I can think of several worthy ones that ran a long time and are still warmly, pleasant diversions to this day, i.e. Barefoot in the Park, Butterflies Are Free, Enter Laughing and Sly Fox, all written by gifted comic playwrights. Lewis Black, a gifted comedian and writer of comedy does not prove to be an especially gifted playwright, in the case of his thin, new comedy One Slight Hitch at ACT Theatre. Neither does director Joe Grifasi, better known for some fine acting, know how to punch up a slight wisp of a comedy like this is in the way directors like Gene Saks, Mike Nichols and Abe Burrows did. This tepid comedy about a wedding that doesn't come off, well, simply doesn't come off, despite a pair of shining performances in key roles.

It took my theatergoing companion and I the whole play to decide who the central character was. It starts with the amiably odd-ball youngest daughter P.B. Coleman letting us know that the play is set in the 1980s and thus she is setting it up in flashback. Played with just enough quirkiness by actress Katherine Grant-Suttie, P.B. seems like an obvious central character, but nope. Neither is her sister Courtney, the bride who won't be (wanly portrayed by Kimberly Sustad), a singularly uninteresting character who for inexplicable reasons has had a couple of men in her life, including a boorish ex named Ryan (limply portrayed by Shawn Telford) who shows up uninvited on the day of her wedding to a rather decent if terribly dull fellow named Harper played with some comic zeal by John Ulman. Nope folks, neither of them, nor the bride's more interesting RN sister Melanie (the droll Kirsten Potter), is the central character.

Whether intended as such or not, Delia, the high-strung mother of the bride who lets every little wedding day concern overwhelm her as if she were being swept away by a tidal wave, is the center of this comedy, and that is because stalwart farceur Marianne Owen wills her to be, as if realizing somebody has to keep us laughing. Owen is an absolute study in how to play—and earn both laughs and sympathy for—a woman not on the edge, but in the middle of a nervous breakdown. She is amiably abetted by R. Hamilton Wright, who plays woozy charm as expertly as anyone, as Delia's husband Doc, who relies on the bottle to calm whatever his own jitters are. The pair of them are, just barely, enough reason to sit through the unevenly paced 100 minutes plus vacuum that Black and Grifasi have given us. In fact, the first reveal of the pair in the show gets a deservedly huge laugh. The last big one you will hear at this let-down of a show.

One Slight Hitch runs through July 8th. For tickets or information contact the ACT box office at 206-292-7676 or visit them online at www.acttheatre.org.


Photo: Chris Bennion



- David Edward Hughes



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