Saturday, November 29, 2008


Christmas isn't the happiest time of year in Reckless, a dark comedy produced by Alley Repertory Theater at the Visual Arts Center (the last performance is tonight). Well, it is for Rachel, who can barely contain her excitement over her favorite holiday. Buffie Main plays Rachel with bubbly verve as a woman who, despite everything that happens to her over the course of the play, never becomes jaded about life. In the first scene, her face is alight with excitement; she positively glows with anticipation and holiday spirit. Rachel is completely unaware that her world is about to come crashing down around her because her husband Tom has taken out a contract on her life.

But Tom, played by Steve Martin, is fully aware that Christmas won't be happy this year, and he's already filled with regret. He no longer wants to go through with it, but he's powerless to call it off. And so, while Rachel eagerly goes about the last-minute tree decorating and babbles to him about Christmas memories, he sits glumly on the bed, absolutely dismal. At the last minute, he tells her what he's done and shoves her out of the house in slippers and a bathrobe to try to get her to safety.

Rachel meets Lloyd (Alex Robertson), a big-hearted man who works for a nonprofit with his girlfriend Pooty (Christen Atwood), a paraplegic who speaks to Lloyd using sign language. Lloyd and Pooty take Rachel in and allow her to stay in their home for a full year, until another Christmas tragedy strikes.

Robertson does an excellent job as Lloyd, reacting perfectly to Rachel's occasionally crazy behavior and changing abruptly from a warm, compassionate man in the first act to a man sunken into depression in the second act. Atwood plays her part with smiles and tenderness, but displays great passion when she explains to Rachel what it's like to live without a voice.

Katie Preston does a hilarious job playing six different psychiatrists, each with a wildly different personality. Kenna Marks plays a variety of parts -- notably a TV reporter and a woman who kills her husband and writes a book about it -- with great gusto. Rob Tromp is tremendously funny as the tacky host of a game show, "Your Mother or Your Wife," and his other roles. And Toni Dragotoiu and Andrea Haskett do a fine job rounding out the show in a number of characters, notably as Roy, the director of the nonprofit Lloyd and Pooty work at, and Trish, its business manager.

Larry Dennis did an excellent job directing the show, creating a delightful cast with well-developed characters and emotional moments, setting the perfect timing for laughs and keeping the show moving briskly along. If you get a chance tonight, go see it.

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