– By Lee Woods
I think it’s safe to say weddings can be a stressful time for any family.
The decisions to be made – What color? What season? Kids or no kids? Buffet, bar or full sit-down dinner? Then, an endless to-do list, as each decision becomes someone’s chore. My own favorite wedding – and no, it wasn’t my own; I was a walking zombie that day, too hyped up about the life-altering event about to take place and honestly, I’ve blanked out more of that day than I remember – No, my favorite wedding was a fairly simple family affair a few years back.
We all met on a mountaintop. Everyone brought food. The bride brought a box of rustic decorations and everyone pitched in to sling it all about. The ceremony was heartfelt, homemade and perfectly charming (Best of all, that couple is still quite happily hitched).
A wedding is at the heart of NTC’s latest, the Lewis Black comedy, “One Slight Hitch.”
Yes, that Lewis Black – the guy who always seems one frothy mouthful away from an aneurism. For all his onstage angst, his play is another matter. It’s actually quite sedate, a fairly standard situational comedy. The situation: The Coleman family – Doc, wife Delia and three daughters – are marrying off one of the girls. It’s to be a backyard affair, but the play takes place in the Coleman’s living room, so the main to-do is happening just offstage.
What we the audience gets is the “backstage” drama. The doubts, the complications, the backstories. I won’t go into all that as, well, that’s the play and it’s a pretty tame affair. Those who take offense at the profane or obscene won’t have a thing to complain about here. The laughs, sadly, are also more absent than one has a right to expect. This is Lewis Black, for goodness sakes. The man makes his living making us snort. But I’m going to go out on my critical limb here and say, in this theatre person’s opinion, comedians should stick to their standup routines. I saw Larry David’s show on Broadway last year (Fish in the Dark) and friends, it was a bust. Steve Martin has done a fairly credible job with a couple of solid plays under his belt, but leave the playwriting to the playwrights, I say.
Now, beyond good, solid writing, the thing about comedy, any comedy, is energy. Think, Kramer, busting into Jerry’s place. Think of the speed of the dialogue in Gilmore Girls. Think of the way the human drama amped up the stakes in MASH. Comedy should sing. It should zip along at Atlanta interstate speeds – in the fast lane. Pacing – keeping the lines right on top of each other – must be tight. This production is sedately motoring along at about 30 miles an hour.
At one point the mother, Delia, played by Mary Caroline Moore, takes a pill to relax as the wedding seems to crashing around her. Trouble is, the entire cast seems to have dosed themselves before they ambled onstage. With one exception: Tony Daniels playing Doc the Dad tries, he really does, to keep things moving. It’s a valiant effort but largely wasted.
The set is credible, workable, with a stunningly painted floor. Lighting and sound are fine. I wish Director Terri Whitley had brought out the chair and whip and used it to get her cast to tighten up, pick it up and bring some much-needed verve and zest to the production, I really do.
Because after all, who doesn’t like a wedding?
“One Slight Hitch,” a comedy by Lewis Black, runs at the Newnan Theatre Company
Feb. 9 – 12. 770-683- 6282 or www.newnantheatre.org for more info.