In their recent production of Ted Tally’s Hooters, the student theater group Rock Hard Productions shows that lively comic performances shine through even in a small-scale production.
The Pool Theater of Adams House is a venue far from the sunny seaside where the action of the play takes place. Yet the energy of the small cast overcomes the limitations of the space, and the greatest drawback remains not the setting but a script which occasionally feels stretched.
The play’s four characters are two sets of friends who head to the beach to get away from it all. They are trying to catch up with each other and take stock of their lives—an action which becomes more necessary after the events at the beach.
Ricky, played by Justin A. Erlich ’03, is just out of high school and has accepted the uninteresting job of selling cars for his father. Though cool and collected on the outside, his façade hides insecurities regarding both girls and his lackluster future. His best friend from high school, Clint (Michael T. O’Neill ’03), is now a college freshman, a little unworldly but still proud to be seeking a higher education. Together, they are beer guzzling and overconfident—the sort of guys that rate girls on a scale of one to ten but are still inexperienced regarding the opposite sex.
The woman on the beach that captures their collective attention is Cheryl, played by Ajarae D. Johnson ’02, a twenty-something bank teller who has just been proposed to by her straightedge boss, a man who files his shirts by pattern and color. She has embarked on a girl’s weekend with her friend Rhonda (Abigail L. Fee ’05), who does not catch the boys’ interest as prominently.
Courting only Cheryl, the boys ask the two on a dinner date that ends up enlightening all four on the subject of love and relationships, and provides the actors an opportunity to show off their comic flair. The play, with a plot that uncannily resembles an episode of a ’70s sitcom, moves from there through a series of predictable, but often humorous, situations.
Erlich is hilarious throughout. He’ll say anything to get the girl and introduces himself to the audience in a frenetic, hormone-driven shpiel filled with name-dropping and absurd anecdotes. Without surrendering the humor of the role, Erlich manages to hint at the many levels of a seemingly shallow womanizer.
Fee provides an excellent counterpart to Erlich’s theatrics, taking a common sense approach to dealing with the boys that eventually brings at least Ricky down to earth. Fee shows a winning ability to sum Ricky up in a glance and deconstruct his public image, making him know his role and shut his mouth for the first time.
In courting the girls, O’Neill and Erlich are a huge success. Every male audience member relates to their slapstick antics in attempting to nab the older woman. The girls, on the other hand, convey not only frustration with boys but come close to objectifying them in their Sex and the City approach to relationships.
Though the script at times drags, and the intelligence level of the humor is lower than needed to elicit laughs, the play is directed by Geoffrey Stevens ’03 with the right comic emphasis and registers as a success and an enjoyable diversion for a college audience.
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