Gov. Gretchen Whitmer addressed the State of Michigan after a plan to kidnap her and other Michigan government officials was thwarted by state and federal law enforcement agencies. She started by saying thank you to law enforcement and FBI agents who participated in stopping this [...]
By John Quinn
“Summertime, and the livin’ is easy,” they sing. As temperatures rise, people turn to light clothing, light meals and light entertainment. And there’s nothing in theater that says “light” like a traditional farce. Dennis Wickline’s “The Sex Maniac,” the opening effort of Broadway Onstage’s 31st season, cries out for a farcical touch, but the cry goes largely unanswered.
“The Sex Maniac” introduces us to two generations of the dysfunctional Hudzinga family. Lawyer Lorraine (Krista Schafer) is a candidate for state Senate. A few years back she had parked her elderly parents at the Christian Women’s Retirement Community. Unfortunately for Lorraine, her father’s behavior has become a disturbance at the old folk’s home, and the couple is unceremoniously delivered to their daughter’s campaign headquarters. Lorraine finds her parents are not speaking to her, or to anyone, except for a few “choice” words. Neither Lorraine nor her sister, Madge (Elizabeth Rager), has had success dealing with their parents in the past, and they make a desperate attempt to find their other sister, Estelle (the only one of the three who had a relationship with her parents), who’s cavorting with a naturalist cult to South America.
There’s a lot of comic gold in this script, but director Christopher Oakley may have used the wrong mining tools. Comedy is all in the timing, and glacier-slow line deliveries aren’t helpful, even in the hottest weather. In addition, the back-story is repetitive, and a brisker delivery would avoid tedium. Schafer is a formidable protagonist – the doubly and trebly put-upon career woman – yet one would look for an utterly deadpan delivery to contrast with the zanies surrounding her. Old hands Stan Newman and Jann Hight are a well-matched pair as the feuding Hudzinga elders. Because they are limited to one repeated line each until the final scene, much of their characters are nicely developed physically, but dare I say this is one instance where out-and-out mugging would not be out of place?
The actors who seem to have best caught on to the spirit of the script are Eric Niece as Aaron, Lorainne’s anxiety-prone campaign manager, and Sharron Nelson as Estelle. Their broad physicality and crisp delivery add the necessary spark to the comedic fire.
“The Sex Maniac,” regardless of its name, is not too racy to entertain all but the youngest children. It’s a pleasant enough diversion for the summertime blues.
‘The Sex Maniac’
Broadway Onstage Live Theatre, 21517 Kelly Road, Eastpointe. Friday-Saturday through Aug. 20. $16. 586-771-6333. http://www.broadwayonestage.com