★★★☆☆ - Satisfying
For their 10th annual New Works winner, Las Vegas Little Theatre has chosen to present playwright Robb Willoughby's "/ 'se-krits /," currently giving it a premiere run in their Fischer Black Box. Like many comedies you have to suspend your disbelief at some of the situations the characters find themselves in, and though the script does contain some adult language and is sometimes didactic, Willoughby makes keen observations about the consequences of keeping secrets. Under the direction of Mark Avis the pace is smooth, the technical aspects are excellent, and there are a few good performances with a lot of ridiculousness, so the show will appeal to many who prefer their comedy on the lighter side.
Set in a contemporary office with five employees, the show explores how the secrets they keep shape their public faces and hide their true natures, inform their choices, and affect those around them. The secrets are pretty outlandish and are often revealed when one actor snaps their fingers to cue a change in lighting for an aside or monologue in flashback, as other actors freeze. It's a well-done effect, as is the replaying of little scenes and conversations so that we can see how different some interactions are in retrospect, when we're aware of hidden agendas.
The Office Manager knows and sees all. Essentially the narrator, the other characters often confide in him so he carries the burden of harboring their secrets. The lovable and slightly buffoonish Dave Pomeroy plays him with aplomb and proves to be an engaging emcee with a silly secret, and admirably stays on top of his many asides. It's easy to get lost in expository lines, but he keeps the show and pace on track with those and with his many crisp finger snaps.
Polly is the mousy secretary who was traumatized by her invisibility as a child, but as an adult now uses that very invisibility to personally enrich herself on the sly. There's not a false note in the performance of Bridget Carlvin in the part, who draws us in and takes us on a journey to her childhood with her funny "reveal" monologue. She's the perfect good angel/bad angel who at one moment seems so sweet and innocent then on the turn of a dime and unbeknownst to others, turns mischievous and cunning. She delineates the two sides of the character so well and has such an expressive face that with the lift of an eyebrow or a devious grin, we can easily see the wheels turning in her conniving mind.
Uncle Bertram is the boss with the failing business who hides his sensitive secret behind bluster and brusqueness. In the role, Daryl Morris is also called upon to play up two very distinct aspects of the character and must blend them both with his revelatory "reveal" monologue toward the end. He does so with clear command, finding the peaks and valleys of the part along with some very specific mannerisms. When he embraces his true self, it's both touching and amusing.
Employee Richard is arrogant and sexist, while employee Hildee is uptight but more mature. They are engaged to be married, and though impossibly matched, their wedding is planned for the next day. Both Chase Dowden as Richard and Francis Stallings as Hildee are on a different level from the other performers as far as acting experience goes. They both have problems with diction and projection, so they are difficult to hear and often throw away lines. Their characterizations are bare sketches and lack focus.
That being said, they both have a pleasant, natural quality and their performances will likely deepen along with the run of the show. The elegant Stalling's "reveal" monologue is conversational and has a nice flow and calm rhythm to it, while Dowden embodies the youthful look and immature attitude of his role. They need to fill in the empty spaces.
Kudos to the technical designers and crew including Chris Davies with his authentic- looking office set and detailed decorations and props; Raphael Daniels-Devost with his warm and efficient lighting design that facilitates those quick cues; Candice Wynant's impeccable, preppy costumes; and Sandy Stein's sleek sound.
LVLT's "/ 'se-krits /" has much to say about the consequences of not being truthful.