Don’t wait another minute to get a ticket to the funniest show in town right now: Marisa Smith’s “SAVING KITTY“ presented by the Nora Theatre Company at Central Square Theater and starring Boston’s own divine Jennifer Coolidge, star of Film (breakthrough role: “American Pie” as Stifler’s infamous mom), TV (“2 Broke Girls”), and the Broadway stage (“The Women”).
The actress is a riot, unlike anyone else, and I couldn’t take my eyes off her. An atom bomb could have gone off, and I would have clung to her every word, look, gesture, as if my life depended on it. I haven’t had this much delicious fun at the theater in awhile.
In SAVING KITTY, Coolidge is both divine and diabolically ditzy as Manhattanite Kate Hartley. She and husband Huntley (Alexander Cook) a UN official are awaiting the arrival of daughter Kitty who’s bringing her new beau home for dinner. We learn that he is one of a string of recent beaux to whom Kitty has eventually become “affianced.” Will this one be next?
When the doorbell rings, the drinks are already flowing and we have gotten to know a bit about the Hartleys: they are worldly, they entertain regularly, and they are atheists. Enter Kitty (Lydia Barnet-Mulligan) a TV producer on the way up, and boyfriend Paul (Lewis D. Wheeler) whom they discover is a born-again, Evangelical Christian educator. The Huntley Hartleys nearly choke on the ice they’re trying to break, and then the real fun begins, as Kate sets about dismantling the relationship.
What ensues is a epic contest of wits and wiles, and Coolidge and Wheeler prove the perfect theatrical match! She is outlandishly subversive, plying him with questions and home made cake as she hilariously insinuates that her daughter is either a slut or a lesbian—whatever will put him off.
He, oh so deftly, keeps his cool and parries her every insane utterance with diplomatic skills worthy of the Iran nuclear negotiations. Father and daughter are virtual bystanders at this battle of biblical proportions which culminates in frisky middle of the night encounters, and Coolidge in a gold lame nighty and frog slippers.
Ms. Coolidge seems to be making it all up on the spot—and she very well may be. With her whispery “Marilyn” voice, she seems only loosely in possession of what’s going to come out of her mouth next—for real—and it absolutely works for this character. By contrast,Wheeler’s performance is as smooth as silk, his cautious retorts meticulously calibrated to hold his own while offering her nothing to grab onto. The result is a mounting tension so dangerously funny, I nearly exploded laughing.
The play needs more of an ending—it just sort arrives at a predictable place and stops. And a secondary plot line/complication doesn’t amount to much, but I didn’t mind. This is a fun night out, where we can vacation on another family’s upscale problems, on an attractive set, with some terrific actors at work, the action slyly directed by artistic director Lee Mikeska Gardner who keeps it all fresh and simmering, never letting it curdle into farce. DO NOT MISS “SAVING KITTY” with an added performance Saturday 7/25 at 3PM and running through August 2 at Central Square Theater.
PLUS a special MONDAY AUGUST 3 BENEFIT PERFORMANCE at 7:30!