Group: NonProphet Theatre
Venue: Regional Arts Commission, 6128 Delmar Blvd.
Dates: December 10, 11, 12
Tickets: $12-$15; contact 636-236-4831 or www.brownpapertickets.com
Story: Rachel loves Christmas. She loves presents wrapped with holiday paper, a Christmas tree in the living room next to a cozy fireplace, cuddling with her husband Tom, telling her sons about Santa Claus and wishing for fulfillment of her lifelong dream, a present that is opened to reveal a happy puppy looking for love. All of that is shattered suddenly one Christmas Eve when a remorseful Tom tells her he has put out a contract on her life and that the hit man is due to arrive in five minutes.
An incredulous Rachel reluctantly flees, leaving behind everything except her robe, slippers and a wedding ring she impulsively throws away when she accepts a ride with a stranger. She tells him that sometimes people become reckless, inspired perhaps by rock ‘n’ roll songs. The kindly stranger, Lloyd, invites her to share Christmas with him and his paraplegic, deaf girlfriend Pooty. Eventually Rachel gets a job at the non-profit agency where Lloyd and Pooty work, learns that Pooty isn’t really deaf, is reunited briefly with Tom, survives more assassination attempts, seeks therapy, hits the jackpot on a TV game show and finds that life is even more uncontrolled than she imagined. Coincidental, too.
Highlights: This quirky comedy by Craig Lucas was first produced in 1983 but has lost none of its zing or flair. With artistic director Robert A. Mitchell at the helm, NonProphet Theatre’s current presentation is both entertaining and provocative, with a little poignancy sprinkled atop this charming holiday confection.
Other Info: Performed on a functional set designed by Mitchell and Nick Uhlmansiek with a splendid array of props courtesy of Mitchell and Katie Donnelly, Lucas’ two-act work is given a loving interpretation by director Mitchell and his exuberant cast. Mitchell adds an offbeat array of holiday tunes done in unconventional ways by unconventional musicians to enhance the on-stage mirth, complemented with Uhlmansiek’s lighting.
Michelle Hand’s Rachel is awestruck and wide-eyed with wonder at the enchantment of the holidays, and she carries that idealistic streak into Rachel’s subsequent byzantine adventures. Whether detailing her life to a series of common sense-challenged therapists, working with a misfit of a boss or learning about the secret lives of Lloyd and Pooty, Hand delightfully reveals Rachel’s development in the course of numerous scenes over two acts to the play’s bittersweet climax.
Ben Ritchie delivers solidly as the mysterious Lloyd, whose benevolence masks a dark past until a new tragedy sends him careening downward. Donnelly is full of surprises as the dutiful (and opportunistic) Pooty, while Tom Lehmann runs the gamut from taciturn Tom to an overly agreeable TV sidekick to a quiet young man who enters Rachel’s life later in its curious journey. Reynard Fox is entertaining as the officious agency president and a garish TV game show host, Elizabeth Graveman is fine as Rachel’s surly boss and an apprehensive patient and Theresa Masters does well as myriad misfit therapists.
“Reckless” is funny and sad, shallow and profound, and certainly could benefit from fewer scenes that would tighten its story. Most of all, though, its beguiling plot and zany characters are as welcome as familiar faces home for the holidays.
Rating: A 4 on a scale of 1-to-5.