By Dana Casadei
Sequels tend to fall in one of two categories: failures (pick any one of the “Bring it On” or “American Pie” films) or huge successes (“Harry Potter,” “Star Wars,” or “Toy Story”). Thankfully for Planet Ant Theatre, “Fish Dinner: Second Helping” falls into the latter.
Dynamic duo Quintin Hicks, writer and performer, and director Dave Davies took the award-winning show from 2011 and brought the concept back with a few new and familiar faces.
For those who didn’t see the original “Fish Dinner,” here’s a bit of a catch-up. For starters, the title has absolutely nothing to do with the play, except for the brief moment when it opens. An older Italian “woman” comes in saying she wants a fish dinner after seeing the sign on the theater. She then curses Geff Phillips, the evening’s fantastic musical accompaniment, and tells the audience that some of them might “piss themselves.” But other than that brief reference, the show is mostly a series of monologues all performed by Hicks. A few characters have stories that intertwine, but only one character – Hank – has anything closely resembling a story with a beginning, middle and end.
From the get-go of the hour-long show it will leave you in stitches, leading me to snort a few more times than is lady-like. Hicks makes each character original in more ways than one. Even if it had just been him on stage in all black with no costume changes, you wouldn’t have any trouble telling who these characters are, ranging from southern farmer L.J. (that’s short for Larry Joe) to a crowd favorite and returning character, The Mighty Quinn. Side note: It takes a brave man to wear the black leotard that Hicks does and proudly strut around the stage.
The humor in the show is at times a little dark, a little dirty, and a little racist, but that’s part of what makes it so fun. It’s extremely smart humor. Any moment when Hicks gets to show off his improv skills with the audience just shows what a powerhouse performer he is; it’s an added bonus to his script. Never has a man screaming “AHHHH!!” right at a woman in the audience been so funny.
As outlandish as Hicks’ characters are, there are qualities in many of them that will send off a trigger, or two, for people that you know or have seen on the street. Hopefully none of them have a “date rag,” though.
The duo of Hicks and Davies wouldn’t have been complete without the aforementioned Phillips. His music is a nice thread tying each segment together. Or Dyan Bailey, who stage managed the show and worked wonders with the lighting.
‘Fish Dinner: Second Helping’
Planet Ant Theatre, 2357 Caniff, Hamtramck. 9 p.m. Friday-Saturday through April 20. $10. 1 hour; no intermission. 313-365-4948. http://www.PlanetAnt.com