Sunday, August 29, 2010

Review - The Unfortunate Honeymoon of Tony and Steve (Wings Theatre and Zephyer Rep)

By Byrne Harrison

Blake Bradford's latest play, The Unfortunate Honeymoon of Tony and Steve, currently in production at Wings Theatre has its share of comic moments. The play follows Tony (Matt Klane) and Steve (K.B. Thomas) on what would have been their honeymoon. Due to Tony's substance abuse issues, Steve called off the wedding and had Tony sent to rehab. Since the honeymoon was already set, Steve and his best friend Rachel (Madeline Reed) have come to Lindy Loo's Hideaway in the Bahamas for some rest away from all the drama. Unfortunately, Tony, fresh out of rehab, has had the same idea, and has brought his nephew Bobby (Jake Zachry) along. As often happens in comedies, the two former lovers find themselves next door to each other. This works out well for Rachel and Bobby, who embark on a steamy affair. It doesn't quite work out so well for Tony and Steve.

Bradford's play feels a lot like a sitcom, albeit a long one, which has both good and bad aspects. On the good side, it tends to move at a quick pace, and thanks to some good comic work by several of the actors (Madeline Reed and Carol Neiman in particular) and director Kymm Zuckert it maintains a light, breezy feel. On the negative side, it feels long and a bit rehashed. In fact, one scene between Steve and his mother (Susan Kirby), in which his mother confesses to Steve about one of her youthful dalliances, is straight out of an episode of "The Golden Girls." Other portions of the play seem to beg for a laugh track, and indeed in some places the actors seem to be holding for laughs, just in case.

Bradford is a good dialogue writer, and the weaknesses in the script primarily come from allowing it to become a bit bloated and trying to stick too close to a sitcom format. When he allows moments of pure theatricality, the play shines. One of the best examples of this is early in the play when Lindy Loo (Linda Hill) and her Cowgirlettes (Katharine McKenzie, Zade O'Blenes, Drina Seay) provide a running musical commentary about the shenanigans going on between Tony, Steve, Rachel and Bobby. Unrealistic and hilarious, it is one of the funniest moments of the play because it is so surprisingly fresh. By ditching the safe sitcom style and bringing in more scenes like this, Tony and Steve could be a much stronger show.

Acting in Tony and Steve is a mixed bag. Leads K.B. Thomas and Matt Klane are both strong in the quieter moments between their characters. Thomas has a tendency to play his comedy very broadly, which often puts him at odds with the rest of the actors in the scene. Madeline Reed is terrific as the supportive and put-upon Rachel, and her scenes where she cuts loose with the much younger Bobby are outstanding. Reed and Zachry play well off one another, and they often steal the scene even if they are doing nothing more than frantically making out.

The characters of the Cowgirlettes, Lindy Loo's trio of wayward girls, are sadly underutilized. Doing little more than glaring and lipsynching, the Cowgirlettes' comic potential remains largely untapped. Zade O'Blenes' choreography for the girls is strong, however, and shows that they can move. I would have liked to have seen more done with them and Lindy Loo.

Overall, The Unfortunate Honeymoon of Tony and Steve has its moments, but isn't quite up to the task of keeping an audience entertained for the full running time. Judicious editing, keeping a firm hand on the mugging, and playing up the theatrical and farcical aspects of the script while downplaying the sitcom feel would help pull the show together nicely.

The Unfortunate Honeymoon of Tony and Steve
By Blake Bradford
Special material by Linda Hill, Matt Klane and Kymm Zuckert
Directed by Kymm Zuckert
Scenic Design: Matt Klane
Stage Manager: Emily Rolston
Costume Design: Linda Hill
Choregrapher: Madeline Reed
Cowgirlettes Choreographer: Zade O'Blenes
Associate Producer: Eli Walker Palzkill
Zephyer Rep Producer: Karen Brelsford
Casting Director: Gretchen Ferris
Resident Director: Dana Dobreva
Directing Intern: Nicole Gehring
Production Management Intern: Chie Morita
Acting Intern: Allie Rightmeyer
Design Intern: Anastacia Spada
Directing Intern: Abigail Strange

Featuring: Linda Hill (Lindy Loo), K.B. Thomas (Steve), Madeline Reed (Rachel), Jake Zachry (Bobby), Matt Klane (Tony), Carol Neiman (Grammy Jean), Susan Kirby (Donna Ann), Katharine McKenzie (Cowgirlette), Zade O'Blenes (Cowgirlette), Drina Seay (Cowgirlette)

Wings Theatre
154 Christopher Street

August 5th-29th

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