Theatre Review: “I Take This Man” by Oaklandon Civic Theatre

Last Saturday night I drove to the northeast corner of Indianapolis to see the all-volunteer Oaklandon Civic Theatre’s production of “I Take This Man,” written by Jack Sharkey and directed by Margy Lancet-Fletcher.

I had such a good time!  This wholesome show for adults and families is laugh-out-loud funny in a joke-filled, TV sit-com way.  The story is a light mystery with a fun little twist at the end and the five actors do a good job of bringing it to life.

The Story

The play begins with Jud (Tom Meador), a slightly lazy but good-hearted local police officer, following Gideon (aka Giddy, played by Krista Searles) into her Boston apartment with an unconscious, mostly-undressed man (Jason Plake) over his shoulder. 

Giddy sweetly directs Jud to put the man on her sofa “because that’s where he usually sleeps.”  Jud wants to call a doctor, but Giddy tells him that the man will be fine, that he just exhausted himself running in the Boston marathon.  (The race is the reason the man is so scantily dressed, supposedly.)  Giddy assures the officer that now the man just needs some rest, but Jud refuses to leave until he has at least jotted down some information for his police report.  So…Giddy tells Jud that the unconscious man is her husband.

However, after Jud leaves and Giddy’s true roommate, Charlene (Kelli Conkin), comes home, we learn that Giddy actually has no idea who the man is.  She just liked the look of him when she saw him on the sidewalk!

Charlene is a no-nonsense sort of gal and she tries to argue that just because Giddy had an overprotective father and now does not meet many eligible bachelors at her job as a museum curator, it doesn’t mean she can nab this man for her own.  When Charlene’s equally no-nonsense boyfriend, Dexter (Erin Rhodes), shows up, he doesn’t accept the situation either.  Giddy blithely answers all of their concerns with her own special logic.

It helps that when the man regains consciousness, he does not remember who he is.  He does not remember Giddy either, but she assures him that he is her Italian husband.  (Italians are the most romantic, you know.)

The man is handsome and has a sexy, strong body; he seems to listen well; he seems kind…I didn’t blame Giddy one bit for wanting to hook up with him.

But who IS he, really?  (We all wondered.)  And how did he really end up unconscious on the sidewalk in his underwear?

The Staging

The set of Giddy and Charlene’s small living room was designed and constructed by James Trofatter.  It is believably cramped yet cozy, with a simple but effective lighting design.  James Trofatter and Steve Viehweg are the light technicians.  Amanda Wing is the stage manager. 

Erika Organ’s costume designs include some lovely dresses for Giddy, authentic-looking nursing scrubs for Charlene, and, of course, Bret’s (the anonymous man’s) everyday-sexy undershorts and undershirt.

My program also lists Jan Viehweg as the publicist and Brittany Cohen as the person in charge of the Box Office.  Rebeca Simpson Holloway provided me with the photos above.

No one is listed for sound design in my program, but I want to give a shout-out for whoever selected the pre-show and intermission music.  It is delightfully witty and upbeat and therefore fits the mood of the show perfectly.

The Theatre

The Oaklandon Civic Theatre group presents its shows on the raised stage of the Oaklandon Unitarian Universalist Church, which is a charming(!) building built in 1925.  My program says that the church “was organized in 1850 and is the oldest Unitarian Universalist congregation in the Indianapolis area.”

You sit in wooden pews, but the raised stage looks like a stage, not an altar.  (Or at least, not what I think of when I think of church altars.)  After the director gives the curtain talk, some unseen person reels back the red velvet curtain by hand.  I loved the special blend of art, history, and sacredness in this space.  It felt very good to be there even before the show began.

The director invited everyone downstairs at intermission for special, show-related refreshments.  She told us that the person in charge of intermissions, Bonnie May, asks about each show ahead of time so that she can make her decorations and goodies to fit it in some way.  Since “I Take This Man” is set in Boston, you can buy tea and homemade Boston cream pie for $3.50 during intermission.  How fun is that!  I regret to report that I had had such a big dinner before the show that I did not try the dessert myself, but I overheard a lot of “yums!”

Box Office

Oakland Civic Theatre’s presentation of “I Take This Man” has three more performances:  Friday, March 26, 2010 and Saturday, March 27, 2010 at 8pm, and Sunday, March 28, 2010 at 2pm.  Tickets are $10 each.  Make your reservations by calling 823-4761, ext. 3, or reserve online by visiting oaklandoncivictheatre.org and clicking on “Reservations.”  Bring cash to pay for your tickets at the door.

Oaklandon Civic’s next show will be “The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940,” by John Bishop, November 5020, 2010.

‘See you at the theatres…

Hope Baugh – www.IndyTheatreHabit.com

Follow @IndyTheatre on Twitter.com, too.

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