Last night I went to see Y York's new play Krisit at Clifton Performance Theatre. It was an "industry night" with lots of actors and theater types in the audience; I had the good luck to set next to Ed Stern, former producing artistic director at the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, recently returned from a glorious trip to Vietnam and Cambodia.
I'm guessing he was there in part to see Dale Hodges in York's comedy. Stern has a long history with the local professional actress, who starred in Wit at the Playhouse back in 2000. More recently, Stern directed her in Mrs. Mannerly at Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati, and he told me he's re-assembling that production for an out-of-town engagement this summer.
York's play, staged by Mark Lutwak, who is the Cincinnati Playhouse's education director (and also York's husband), is a ribald comedy with a point to make about aging and superficial behavior. Hodges plays Krisit, a onetime Hollywood starlet who has been a recluse for years, hiding from cruel comments by media vultures, fed by jealous or wounded colleagues
. Most particularly, she seems to have been victimized by Peter (Kevin Crowley) based on a long-ago potentially romantic encounter that went astray. He remembers things differently, of course, and believes he was the wronged party. Stirring the pot — or at least the hot tub — is LuLu (Landree Fleming), a desperately aspiring producer who has wangled her way into Krisit's life as a fawning domestic in hopes of parlaying the connection into a career-making hook-up for Krisit's return to the screen.
All three characters are obsessed with age, every one of them lying about how old they really are — in L.A., where being over-the-hill might as well mean being dead. York's script and the three actors milk a great deal of humor out of all of this tale — two acts, about one hour 45 minutes with an intermission. Clifton Performance Theatre's tiny space just east of the Ludlow business district doesn't provide much glamor (it could be lying about its age, too), but there's enough — including a red carpet, a hot tub and a martini bar — to set the scene. Anna Goller designed the set, and Gordon DeVinney pulled together costumes that augment the characters. These include some amusing body suits that illustrate the concerns of aging.
The actors get to have a lot of fun with York's script, which ranges from vicious to witty and back again. Hodges captures Krisit's vulnerability, but also her steely core. Fleming's LuLu is no match for her, but we see her gears spinning constantly. And Crowley's Peter, trying to reignite a career that never really struck a flame before, is great fun to watch as he lapses into interior monologues that he realizes everyone is listening to. His desperate exchanges with his "crystal" are especially amusing — as well as revealing. When they converge in and around the hot tub for the final scene, well, it's adult situation comedy at its best.
KRISIT's final performances are set for May 30-June 1, all at 8pm. Tickets: 513-861-SHOW.