By Chuck Graham, TucsonStage.com
photo by Ryan Fagan
Steve Wood, top; Carlisle Ellis and Keith Wick, middle; Carrie Hill, Samantha Cormier and Sophia Duclo, bottom, from left, as they appear in "One Slight Hitch" at Live Theatre Workshop.
As real life keeps speeding up and news events become ever more wacky, yesterday's farce is feeling more like today's routine. Another lesson in this progression of art becoming reality is on display in Live Theatre Workshop's vibrantly hectic “One Slight Hitch” by Lewis Black.
While Black himself has enjoyed far more success as a snarky comedian than as a playwright, it's clear in watching LTW's high-speed production – directed by Tucson's own meister of the manic, Stephen Frankenfield – that Black has a soft spot in his heart for this traditional form of noisy theater.
Assembling a strong cast led by polished local veterans Carlisle Ellis and Keith Wick, Frankenfield has got the pros who can turn this script into a sports car comedy that loves to go fast. Set in the early 1980s and choc-a-block with pop culture references, it still stays true to the traditional farce format of slamming doors, mistaken identities and mixed-up motivations.
There is a complete believability in the marriage of Doc (Wick), a physician who has already endured too many years of patients making bad choices, and Delia (Ellis), addicted to the adrenalin of over-reacting to every crisis. Their mercurial chemistry together feels tighter than magnetized pinballs in a world championship competition.
The catalyst for this high anxiety is their bride-to-be daughter Courtney, played to maximum effect by Samantha Cormier who always finds ways to be the counterpoint in every situation with her stressed out parents.
She wants to be the perfect daughter in this upscale Cincinnati family by marrying Harper who is sure to be a four star business success, and dumping Ryan the irresponsible guy who is all spontaneous delight.
Also cast with architectural accuracy are Matt Brown as hopelessly square Harper, who gets all of his ideas from only the most qualitative sources, and Steve Wood as Ryan, the best guy in the world to have a beer with most any time.
Once again Wood steals his every scene, squeezing out the real juice and shining brighter than the others, bringing pure joy to his performance.
Completing the cast in a smaller role is the always interesting Carrie Hill as Melanie, the naughty daughter of Doc and Delia. Hill brings a different breath of fresh air to her scenes.
And precocious teen actress Sophia Duclo makes her LTW debut as the shiny innocent P.B. She gets her laughs making unassuming remarks of great truth, delivered with a sense of timing that feels awesomely natural.
The plot spins around the planning for Courtney's wedding day, a big dollar affair with a million moving parts where every detail must be executed with absolute precision. Of course, nothing is.
The whole thing begins falling apart when Ryan shows up unannounced just before the wedding, expecting to be welcomed with open arms. Only what he gets is just the opposite, from everyone but Courtney. Sometimes it is the old flame that burns with the deepest heat.
"One Slight Hitch" runs through April 30, with performances at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, 3 p.m. Sundays, at Live Theatre Workshop, 5317 E. Speedway Blvd. Additional Saturday matinee April 30 at 3 p.m.
Tickets are $20 general admission; $18 students, military and seniors 62+. For details and reservations, 520-327-4242, or visit livetheatreworkshop.org