‘Jacques LaMarre Has Gone Too Far’ four edgy, dark one-act comedies at Hole in the Wall
by Kory Loucks
NEW BRITAIN - Playwright Jacques LaMarre definitely pushed the politically correct envelope at Hole In The Wall’s world premiere of "Jacques LaMarre Has Gone Too Far," four one-act plays, running through Saturday, Dec. 10.
Each one act had its own director. The first, "Mignonette" directed by Bethany Sanderson, was my least favorite, perhaps because it was so mean-spirited and extreme.
The plot centered on two women at a dog park " One, a secretary named Kim, played by Rebecca Meakin, with a newborn in a stroller, the other, Fern, played by Angie Jochim, with a dog.
Kim had an affair her boss, who happened to be Fern’s husband. In retaliation, Fern bought the ugliest dog she could find and named it after the baby.
It was played in a broad, super campy style, with lots of glaring and gigantic pregnant pauses that felt totally bizarre and unreal.
Fern was staring so intensely at Kim, that if nothing else but to protect her child from potential violence, she would have left the stage before they had any altercation.
Of course there wouldn’t have been any play then, but it just didn’t feel at all based in anything resembling reality.
The second play, "The Buck Stops Here," directed by Michael Daly, was absolutely my favorite.
It is the story of a Archie Bunker-type fellow, Buck, whose wife, Ellen, has won a marketing makeover, and rather than do a marketing strategy on a business, the marketing experts, Dot and Dash, "re-branded" Buck in the couple’s bedroom at 11 p.m. on a Monday night.
Granted, that is a far-fetched premise too, but it is written well and acted with confidence and good humor.
Charles Merlis plays Buck with just the right amount of grossness to make him a prime, makeover candidate. Kathleen-Marie Clark plays his wife Ellen, with sweet forbearance.
Terri D’Arcangelo and Roy Donnelly are the dynamic-duo, Dot and Dash, spouting marketing jingo and statistics with the smarmy enthusiasm of polished salespeople.
D’Arcangelo also directs the next one-act play called "Cain DisAbled" about two brothers, Allan (James DeMarco) and Bob (John Peifer) who have a major falling out over a virtual farm game on Facebook, that is cleverly interspersed with biblical parallel references of Cain and Abel by the narrator (Joachim.)
The last of the one-acts is called "Jacques LaMarre Has Gone Too Far," directed by Kit Webb. It is set in a scary suburban place called Celebration, Fla., which is a Disney Company town.
It is very campy and extremely outrageous, especially when there are references to a black man and a gay Frenchman who enter their lily-white God-fearing, gun-toting community. It has the feeling of a Saturday Night Live segment that would never reach the airwaves.
Donnelly plays the gun-wielding Glenn, and Joan DuQuette-Aresco plays his righteous hyper-kinetic wife with blazing blue eye shadow and fabulously poofed hair, Sara.
"God and Disney know what’s good for us," Sara says to console herself.
Jillian Dion plays the hysterical neighbor, Michelle, who spots one of the outsiders in their midst.
"Can’t they go and be equal somewhere else?" one of them says.
Matthew Skwiot plays Rand who goes undercover as a Polish cleaning woman, which is quite amusing. I love comedy with clothing.
Devin Horner plays their savior, Pastor Ted, who clearly has his own hypocritical secret agenda.
The sets are simple with some movable wooden boxes that function beautifully to create benches, a bed, and a couch, with set design by Technical Director Bill Arnold.
At almost 90 minutes, the entire show is really short enough that an intermission isn’t necessary.
Sometimes the plays feel like they are shocking just to shock, but overall they are smart, funny, outrageous, dark comedies with an edgy and wicked perspective from talented local playwright LaMarre.
JACQUES LAMARRE HAS GONE TOO FAR
3 ½ Stars
Theater: Hole In The Wall Theater
Location: 116 Main St., New Britain
Production: Written by Jacques LaMarre. Produced by Pan Riley. Directed by Michael Daly, Terri D’Arcangelo, Bethany Sanderson, and Kit Webb. Stage Manager Rebekah Poppel. Technical direction and set design by Bill Arnold. Sound design by Lawrence E. Niland. Costume design by Stephanie Layne and Dianne Zabor.
Running time: 85 minutes plus one 15-minute intermission
Show Times: 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 2 p.m. on Sunday, through Dec. 10.
Tickets: $20. Call 860-229-3049 or visit their website at www.hitw.org.
Rebecca Meakin - Kim
Angie Joachim - Fern, Narrator
Kathleen-Marie Clark - Ellen
Charles Merlis - Buck
Terri D’Arcangelo - Dot
Roy Donnelly - Dash, Glenn
Joan DuQuette-Aresco - Sara
Jillian Dion - Michelle
Matthew Skwiot - Rand
Devin Horner - Pastor Ted