She’s frustrated. She’s feeling trapped. And she lashes out at anything she encounters.
Little did an about-to-be-divorced mother of two realize how much she had in common with the flying mammal that’s taken up residence in her newly purchased home. Yet the frightening and emotionally exhausting move is also one of the most liberating for bat and homeowner alike – which translates into one very funny comedy that’s now playing at the Williamston Theatre.
Written by Michigan-based playwright Annie Martin, “Flap” tells the story of a mother alienated from her daughters because of her decision to divorce their father. No one seems happy about the situation – not Gail, the wife, or Bill, her soon-to-be ex. For even though he’s apparently thrilled to be free after 20 somewhat dispirited years of marriage, he’s equally concerned about Gail’s ability to survive on her own.
And for good reason, it seems.
Because on move-in day, for example, Gail discovers that the house she bought is not only already occupied, it was once the scene of a very grisly murder that’s so well-known that it’s a popular stop for local tour buses. And when it becomes apparent that she lacks the skill and know-how to evict her pesky border, her irrational solution is to torch the place. (Bill’s offer to help get rid of the bat is refused, of course.)
Plus, no one is safe in Gail’s presence. (Her new neighbor, Naomi Campbell – not the famous one – learns that the hard way. So, too, does Bill, who spends much of the play unconscious.)
But since this is a – dare I say it? – broad comedy, the route to its conclusion is filled with one delightful twist after another. And for the most part, the goods are delivered quite satisfactorily by director Lynn Lammers who knows how to keep the chuckles rolling – and the nosebleeds coming.
What doesn’t work, however, is the action that leads up to the all-important revelation that Sam – the eventual bat trapper – thinks Gail is coming on to him. (It drives the story to its ultimate conclusion.) Sure, she’s running around outdoors wearing only a bra and pants. However there’s not one shred of visual or physical evidence to back that up – no mistaken touches, no misunderstood body language, no accidental boobs-in-the-face, nothing – unless a geeky 25-year-old mistakes the rantings and ravings of a distraught, partially-dressed, middle-aged woman for foreplay. (The plot twist came out of left field and made no sense to me on opening night.)
Teri Clark Linden plays the often irrational Gail almost too well. For while her character’s inner turmoil is always palpable – which is a good thing – Linden’s dialogue is sometimes lost ever so briefly during Gail’s more explosive outbursts.
And as Bill, Brian Harcourt perfectly captures the essence of the smarmy, know-it-all husband who deserves every knock in the head he gets.
But it’s Dana Brazil who particularly stands out as Naomi, the ballsy, devil-may-care neighbor you’d probably avoid if you knew her whole story.
Williamston Theatre, 122 S. Putnam St., Williamston. Thu.-Sun., through Aug. 12. Tickets: $18-$22. For information: 517-655-7469 or http://www.williamstontheatre.org.