RSVP Productions' performance of Craig Lucas' Broadway show "Reckless" could easily be re-named, "Pointless," "Worthless," "Endless" -- you get the picture. Maybe I just wasn't in the mood for a quirky holiday play at 7 p.m. on a Sunday night. Perhaps.
The space was nice enough, though. Brady Street Pharmacy owner James Searles did a remarkable job creating a performance area, furnishing it with beautiful old seats from the former movie theater. Occasionally the show was punctuated with sounds of waitstaff bussing tables, but to be honest, I rather welcomed any type of distraction from the fairly random plot action.
One comfort was the opening scene with Tom Fitzsimmons, played by Kirk Thomsen and his wife Rachel (Carrie McGhee). The man could be the poster boy for a new line of sexy men's pajamas by Victoria's Secret. Whew! No ripples of emotion could budge his impeccable eyebrows, but he genuinely appeared stressed as Rachel gushed about how much she loved Christmas. He artfully transitioned to a mixture of sadness, fear and regret as he unburdened himself of his dark secret.
Rachel, on the other hand, did nothing for me. She even had several different identities and yet still couldn't break out of a somewhat one-dimensional performance. It was difficult to believe she had children due to the absence of -- "motherliness" -- for lack of a better word. If she hadn't called her neighbor Jeanette and asked her to "look in on the boys for me," I would have forgotten about them altogether.
Lighting by Nick DaVia and Adam Strange was minimal, but effective. The use of a single spotlight to simulate watching TV or when Rachel was being examined by a psychiatrist efficiently got the point across. The sound effects were pretty average. Intermittent songs that sounded like Judy Garland or Rosemary Clooney were soothing respites from the hijinks of the caricatures, I mean actors, onstage. Tom Backes' minimalist, but versatile set design easily shifted with each random plot twist and jerk. Movable wooden blocks served as the bulk of the props, and were flanked by a hanging window with sprayed on snow as well as a lit-up Christmas tree in the back corner of the stage.
Cynthia L. Paplaczyk's performance of Pooty -- Lloyd's paraplegic, deaf-mute wife -- was almost cartoonish. How could she not be with a name like that? Curt and Colleen Hart, however, are to be commended for their sign language coaching. Lloyd and Pooty's communication lent a tender facet to their relationship with each other and, eventually, Rachel. In fact, in a particularly grating moment when Lloyd shouts at her to shut up, Rachel's signing of "I'm sorry" is a nice touch.
Conversely, Earl Scharnick's portrayal of Rachel's boss was extremely irritating. He spoke to her and co-worker Trish (Cheryl Ann) in a nails-on-a-chalkboard voice, which lost its novelty after approximately five seconds. Trish, however, was wearing some great chartreuse cowgirl boots and was convincingly cold to the ever-prying Rachel, who just couldn't get her head around the fact that Trish didn't love Christmas. Without skipping a beat, Trish replies, "My parents were killed when I was 6 months old." That shut her up, even if just momentarily.
If you are in the mood for a wacky, crazy-go-nuts dose of pre-holiday antics, then RSVP's "Reckless" is for you. If you want to see some good theater, however, take a pass on this one.