Also see John's review of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels
Wiltse is the author of twelve novels and eleven plays. His plays The Good German and A Marriage Minuet have also been performed at the Florida stage. Wiltse is the recipient of both the Drama Desk Award and the Edgar Allen Poe Award, and is currently Playwright-in-Residence at the Westport Country Playhouse.
The setting for Hatchetman is the offices of a golf magazine. The once family-owned publication struggles to keep itself fresh in a competitive market. There is news of an impending take-over of the magazine by an outside corporation, and a guy has been sent in to flush out the publication's weak links - a hatchet man.
Magazine writer Temple is an asthmatic and career-obsessed woman who has captured the romantic attention of co-worker Carter. He in turn has captured the admiration of the thickly bespectacled and socially awkward co-worker Jane. Otis is the older, charmingly bumbling mascot of the office whose family started the magazine. Sam is the tough and sexually aggressive female editor in charge of keeping it all together.
When a new employee, Johnson, enters the scene the other characters quickly surmise he is the hatchet man as they see him secretly taking notes on all they do. In the end they discover that Johnson has merely been taking notes for a novel he is writing, and that Otis is the hatchet man. He finds no reason to change a thing with the magazine, and in the end, girl gets guy all around.
The set for this show is well done by Mark Pirolo and well lit by John McFadden. Costumes designed by Erin Amico get entrance laughs more than once when worn by Colin McPhillamy as the eccentric Otis. Amico's costumes really help to establish the flavor of this comedic farce.
Colin McPhillamy is a master at playing the lovably eccentric Englishman. His Otis steals the show. Lisa Morgan has strong presence as the controlling and kinky Sam. Beth McIntosh as Temple is a little hard around the edges, and needs to find some softness to her character to make her more palatable. Susan Bennett does well in a role that is not written as well as the others. Her Mr. Magoo-like scenes would have been a disaster in the hands of a less skilled actress. Todd Allen Durkin as Carter finds conflict for his character without relying on just the physical or verbal comedy of the play. He is just right in the role, as is Shane Jacobsen as Johnson. Both manage to not play to the stereotype of their roles in such a formulaic piece. With the help of David Wiltse, the Florida Stage has successfully found a light-hearted romp with which to entertain their audiences.
Hatchetman plays at the Florida Stage through January 14, 2007. The theatre is located in the Plaza del Mar, at 262 S. Ocean Blvd. in Manalapan. The Florida Stage is a professional theatre which focuses on new and emerging works, hiring local and non-local Equity and Non-Equity performers. They are a member of the Theatre Communication Group, the League of Resident Theatres, the National Alliance for Musical Theatre, and the National New Play Network. The Florida stage also offers extensive programs for young artists. Information on their stage season and offered programs may be obtained by calling their box office at 561-585-3433 or 800-514-3857, or on line at www.floridastage.org.
*Designates member of Actor's Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States.