Regional Reviews: San Francisco/North Bay
Women in Jeopardy
Thoughtful Mary (Shannon Rider) and practical Jo (Sandra Ish) lament that they have missed their mutual best friend Liz (Angela Squire) because of her preoccupation with her new boyfriend. The three divorcees have supported each other through thick and thin, marriages and divorces, and more. When Liz shows up at Chardonnay Tuesday with Jackson (Richard Pallaziol) in tow, she's showing him off and maybe hoping to incite a little jealousy. After all, he's a dentist with a thriving practice, and the sex has never been better. Liz gloats, "I'm experiencing a Renaissance of my nether parts." But Jackson has a creep factor, with a voice like Hannibal Lecter's and a knack for inappropriate, ghoulish remarks, and Mary and Jo are a little alarmed for their friend. When information surfaces that suggests he might also be a serial killer, they move into high gear to intervene and save Liz.
The disappearance of Jackson's pretty dental hygienist raises concerns, especially when he seems less than worried, despite Liz's assertions to the contrary. Police are investigating, but Liz still seems fine with Jackson taking her buxom teen daughter Amanda (Victoria Saitz) on a "father-daughter" camping trip. Red flags pile up and Mary and Jo plot ways to abort the campout and open Liz's eyes to the obvious truth about Jackson. They rush to the police to report their suspicions to Sergeant Kirk, who bears an uncanny resemblance to Jackson (also played, of course, by Pallaziol). Kirk's sweetly awkward flirtation with Mary adds another complication.
Mary further enlists the aid of Amanda's erstwhile boyfriend Trenner (Zane Walters), a sincere goofball with aspirations of his own, including a fantasy that might involve Mary. The hijinks ensue, the complications deepen, and the laughs triple. Move all those eagerly mistaken characters into the woods and watch the fur fly.
The script suffers from a rather abrupt resolution, but by that time you don't really care, and friendship prevails, as it should. Nothing earth-shattering, but a lot of fun and a little heart for good measure.
The actors are clearly comfortable with their characters and each other, supporting the laughs with excellent comic timing and physicality. Rider, Ish, and Squire make a great trio of utterly believable women friends "of a certain age." Pallaziol has delicious fun with his two look-alike but quite opposite characters. Saitz gets to move Amanda from teenage biatch to sympathetic young woman. Walters is a standout as Trenner, with gawky bravado and cougar fantasies.
Argo Thompson's set design goes from modern kitchen to ski shop to police station and finally deep forest with minimal changes and clever set pieces, and employs a lovely backdrop throughout. April George's lighting and Sandra Ish's costumes thoroughly complement the scenic design and the characters. Sound design by Carla Spindt and Thompson provides comic commentary on the scenes and gets numerous laughs on its own. Director Spindt keeps the staging lively, pulling out all the stops to set up the laughs and sight gags.
Give yourself an evening of laughter with this fun-filled script and playful cast.
Women in Jeopardy, through May 27, 2018, at Left Edge Theatre's Studio Theater, Luther Burbank Center for the Arts, 50 Mark West Springs Rd., Santa Rosa CA. Tickets $25.00-$40.00 can be purchased online at www.leftedgetheatre.com or by phone at 707-546-3600.