The switch is on
By Paul Atreides
Closing out Las Vegas Little Theatre’s (LVLT) 44th Fischer Black Box season is the winner of their annual New Works Competition. This year it’s a third win for Tom Misuraca with Kiss My Astral Projection, a comedy exploring the differences between the sexes. Or, more precisely, what it’s like to inhabit the other’s body and Misuraca uses astral projection as the vehicle.
Jerry and Lisa Gemelli (Mickey Roark and Jackie Lakoudis) have been married a while and have hit that point in marriage: The fire seems to be gone, individual interests seem to have shifted, and bickering seems to have taken over. Jerry is now into studying astral physics and wants Lisa to join him. Of course, much to his surprise, Lisa is a fast learner and they take a trip together. Upon returning, they discover their souls have switched bodies.
Lisa is the adventurous one and heads out to explore the possibilities. In Jerry’s body. She goes to a gay bar because, well, she’s straight and wants to hook up with a man. Meanwhile, Jerry heads out, in Lisa’s body, to hunt down his astral arts teacher for help. Lisa (in Jerry’s body) gets hit on by Kevin (Heath Robertson) and the teacher hits on Jerry (in Lisa’s body). Then another man (also Heath Robertson) hits on Jerry (in Lisa’s body).
And this is where believability and some of the fun get lost.
Roark and Lakoudis haven’t spent enough time studying each other’s character mannerisms or speech patterns. These shouldn’t be limitations; they should be embodiments. Lakoudis brings a Jersey roughness to her role as Lisa but Roark only delivers clichéd effeminacies. Roark doesn’t commit to Jerry, either, delivering a run-of-the-mill male. Lakoudis actually brings a little more to her portrayal.
What’s a marriage without a BFF in the picture? Enter Karen (Michelle Walton). Karen is Lisa’s BFF. They know each other’s dark and dirty secrets, yet Karen doesn’t notice any changes when she runs into the switched personalities. The script doesn’t deliver for Walton and she leaves it alone. Some simple questioning glances or half-gestures would make up for it and add to the fun.
Robertson is the surprise here. He takes the two roles and goes all in on both. His Kevin is funny as he tries to hit on Jerry’s body without portraying a stereotype. When Robertson plays the straight dude hitting on Lisa’s body, he’s all in again. As a result, he deservedly scores the biggest laughs of the evening.
Directed by David Ament, opening night’s performance started out rough. The pacing and timing were just the slightest bit off in early scenes but managed a decent comeback in Act 2. There are places where word and action don’t mesh and comedic tension is lost.
LVLT should be commended for encouraging and presenting new work. Without knowing the agreement with playwrights for this competition, it would serve both parties to accommodate it as a workshop-type environment. The script needs to be honed; it fails the characters at times. Most egregious are the final two scenes, which should be cut. They don’t add anything; the joke has already been played out and the point of the script has already been made. Yet, overall, both script and production show promise.
What: Kiss My Astral Projection
When: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 2 p.m. Sundays through May 29
Where: Las Vegas Little Theatre-Mainstage, 3920 Schiff Drive
Tickets: $20 (702-362-7996; www.lvlt.org)
Grade: *** Satisfying
Producer: Las Vegas Little Theatre; Director: David Ament; Set Design: Chris Davies; Stage Manager: Julie Horton