Sunday, February 5, 2012

QUICK TAKE REVIEW Wandalust or How a Daydreamer Learns to Leave Home and Follow Her Bliss by Beverly Creasey

It’s reason to celebrate when a new theater has as its mission the support of new plays! Argos Productions is one of the heroes willing to produce local playwrights. (You can count the others on the fingers of one hand.) It’s fitting that Argos’ WANDALERIA is up at the venerable Boston Playwrights’ Theatre.

David Valdes Greenwood’s quirky, feel good comedy of manners plays through February 11th. Director Brett Marks gives the sweet, oddball script a peppy production, sparked by Kate deLima as the homebody-Pollyanna who corresponds with prisoners and fantasizes about winning prizes and finding romance. In case Flannery O’Connor comes to mind, not to worry. This “good man” was easy to find.

Greenwood isn’t buying into the predator phenomenon which we’ve been conditioned by “television journalists” to expect. Peter Brown gives a charming performance as Rocky, the well intentioned “plant poacher” who flees Florida for Alaska to see Wanda.

DeLima and Brown get great support from Caitlyn Conley as the space cadet who takes the plant man’s advice to turn her life around, too, from Terrence Haddad and Craig Houk as myriad fantasy men (and one fantasy woman!) and from Shelley Brown as Wanda’s tough but tenderhearted roommate.

The only hole in the script, in my opinion, is the roommate’s quick assent to Rocky’s visit. I just don’t think she would trust a stranger so readily. Perhaps if she had a line about sleeping with a shotgun /or keeping a pistol by the tub, then I wouldn’t have been so apprehensive about her “bath” plans, leaving Wanda alone with the ex-con downstairs. At that point in the script, I wasn’t entirely sure he was a good guy. (Just a thought from an old play doctor.)

That one point aside, Wandaleria is a delightful play about, as Rocky says, “dressing up” life a bit. Greenwood writes catchy dialogue and gets clever laughs from spoofing tongue in cheek television shows like JUSTIFIED . “Put that orchid on the ground,” prison guard Craig Houk snarls at Rocky – just one of the smart ways Greenwood pokes fun at our media driven culture.