Wicked in Both Senses of the Word
By Skip Sheffield
The world premiere of “Gloucester Blue” is some wicked good fun as the second offering of Theatre at the Arts Garage, running through Feb. 17 at
180 NE First St.,
We had the privilege of attending opening night with the great playwright Israel Horovitz in attendance. Horowitz has written some tragic, gripping stuff in his huge (more than 70 plays) output of stage and cinema. Horowitz also has a “wicked’ sense of humor. If you are from
England the word wicked does not necessarily mean evil or
nefarious. It is more an adjective that means “extremely” or “very.”
Yes, “Gloucester Blue” is a very funny play, but it is also wicked in the original definition of the word. All four characters are up to no good, for different reasons.
The setting, by Stephen Placido, is an old packing house in the historic blue-collar fishing
Gloucester has seen better days, but like so many places gifted with physical
beauty, the waterfront is being transformed by wealthy upwardly-mobile types. village
Stumpy (David Michael Sirois) is a battered, salt-of-the-earth man who aspires for more. He is a painting contractor who has hired Latham (Stephen G. Anthony), a fellow Massachusetts native with a shady past, as his helper for a rush job for a wealthy couple.
Latham is a loud, outgoing type who loves the raucous local favorites Aerosmith played at high volume. Stumpy prefers the intellectual enrichment of NPR. The men spackle, sand and paint between banter. When the wife of the owner, Lexi (Andrea Conte) makes her entrance, Latham can immediately see there is hanky-panky going on. Sexy Lexi is a Harvard-educated lawyer and daughter of a judge, but she like to walk on the wild side with the gratefully accommodating Stumpy.
Lexi’s husband Bummy (
Michael St. Pierre) is the archetypical
upper-class twit; born into wealth and privilege, but devoid of ambition or
maturity. Bummy also has his shady side, and with his pent-up rage, you just
know something is going to pop in this volatile situation.
There is something satisfying in seeing characters who “had it coming” duly punished. “Gloucester Blue” is more farce than drama, but it is highly entertaining highjinks and low-blows by adults who should know better. It is no coincidence that Horovitz is much admired by the French, who appreciate the fine art of farce.
Stephen G. Anthony is a hulking, large-framed actor with keen intelligence; perfect for the role of the devious, dangerous Latham. Andrea Conte is an actress not too shy to exude sex and desire, and
St. Pierre is spot-on as a downtrodden soul only too happy to
sample forbidden fruit.
Bummy is a straw man impossible to admire or even sympathize with, and
Michael St. Pierre makes him as
insufferable as possible, short of making him a complete fool.
Louis Tyrrell has directed this agile quartet with deadly accuracy for laughter most foul. As a side benefit, Sirois and Anthony are honing home decorating skills that could come in handy between acting gigs.
Tickets are $30-$40. Call 561-450-6357 or go to www.artsgarage.org.