THEATRE REVIEW: Things You Shouldn't Say Past Midnight 

Coitus Interruptus: Sex and symbolism provide a funny night

Things You Shouldn't Say Past Midnight
Late Night @ the Footlight series
Oct. 18-20, 9 p.m.
Footlight Players Theatre
20 Queen St.
$10/Thurs., $15/Fri.-Sat. (843) 722-4487

With a change of name from Salt and Battery to Late Night @ the Footlight, this year's opening show in Footlight Players' series for adults is Things You Shouldn't Say Past Midnight by Peter Ackerman. Following the lives of three couples at three a.m. in New York City, this is a ribald and risqué stereotyping of relationships that comes across like an extended episode of a funny HBO sitcom. That's a good thing.

On a simple stage, composed mostly of three beds, all of which get a lot of use through the evening, this ensemble cast works very well together, but doesn't quite have their timing down. Add in a tendency to talk over laughter (well-earned laughter at that), and it results in the show not quite living up to its potential. By the time the second weekend of the run comes around, the nerves should be gone and the laughs should come even faster and last longer.

In what is probably an unintentional coincidence, the actress with the least amount of experience ends up showing the most skin. Clancy Bryant, who plays Nancy, goes topless several times throughout the play and literally starts the show with a bang. Legs splayed, her boyfriend bouncing away on top of her, she moans her way to orgasm, only to bring everything to a screeching halt when she shouts at the climactic moment, "Do me! Do me! You hook-nosed Jew!" The rest of the play revolves around the ensemble helping Nancy discover the reasons for her remark.

David Barr plays Ben, the bouncing boyfriend who shows the proper offense at the slur, though it is doubtful that many men could just suddenly stop at that particular moment, as he manages to do. Upset by the remark, he utters some revelations that cause Nancy to doubt their relationship.

The second of three couples featured in the play consists of Gene, a reluctant hit man, and Grace, his new collegiate girlfriend who is tired of college boys and excited (oh, how excited) to be dating a real man. Played by James Froemel and Andrea K. McGinn, theirs is the only scene that does not begin with interrupted sex. Turns out that Grace wants it, but Gene just wants to talk. When Nancy arrives to discuss her problems with her girlfriend Grace, theirs becomes the least used bed of the evening. Froemel and McGinn are a cute couple on stage, but she seems much more into him than he is into her, even given the nature of their relationship.

The third couple, played by Phillip Cohen and Erick K.J. Collins, is Mark and Mr. Abramson. Mark is the brother of Gene and also the counselor of Grace. He has a thing for much older men, and it is as he is satisfying his cravings that they are interrupted. Collins is hilarious in the stereotyped role of the older Jewish man, and he and Cohen actually have the best chemistry of the couples on stage. Working together on a three-way conference call during act two, the pair strive to help Nancy deal with her concerns over Ben's revelations.

Director J.C. Conway has done a remarkable job getting his actors, none of them professionals, to appear comfortable on stage dealing with their various actions and dialogue that is very frank and sexual in nature. While there were a few moments during the complicated three-way call where the timing was not spot on, the cast still manages to come to an exciting climax (sorry). Add in the ability to take drinks inside the theatre, some nice local bar tie-ins, and the new Late Night series is off to a great start with this humorous look at coitus interruptus.


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