Friday, January 29, 2010

Dilemmas with Dinner

If Fools is a dumb frat boy, Dilemmas with Dinner is someone who's smart enough that I could see possibly dating for a while. Which is not to say that it's overly intellectual or anything -- it actually contains a lot of slapstick, malapropisms, impressions and the like -- but some of the humor is a little more subtle and it's nice for audiences to be able to get it without being hit over the head with it. It's the whole package, really -- smart and funny with a lot of character.

Megan Barsness plays Brooke Williams, a career woman who's trying to win a major promotion and asked her boss and his wife over for dinner so she can ask for the job. But her house is in a state of chaos and everything that can go wrong does. It's all she can do to wipe the bleach off her upper lip and get dressed, let alone deal with broken plates, broken heels, her husband's broken back and the constantly ringing phone.

The entire cast was excellent. Barsness did a wonderful job of degenerating during the evening from merely frazzled to practically homicidal. Paul Kersey, who plays Donny, Brooke's sarcastic husband, and Kevin Tuck, who plays Stephen, Brooke's assistant's flirtatious boyfriend, stole the scenes they were in. Genny Ulmen (Caren the caterer) had some particularly nice exchanges with Eric Johnson, who played Donny's hapless, klutzy assistant Max. Brittany Buckner (Brooke's assistant Julia) added some excellent tension to her scenes when she discovered some things she hadn't known about her boyfriend. Karl Johnson and Shelley Ward were positively irritating as Brooke's boss and the boss's wife -- exactly as they were supposed to be -- but pulled it off in a way that wasn't just a caricature of someone annoying.

The night I went had some technical difficulties with the phone -- and unfortunately it's a central source of much of the chaos in the show, so the cast had to play along and answer it even when it wasn't ringing. It was really a relief when the phone started ringing again. Hopefully those kinks have been worked out for closing weekend.

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