Theater Review: "Adrift In Macao" Lacking Plot, But Local Actors Still Shine

NEW MILFORD —  New Milford’s TheatreWorks has amped up its program for the 2013 season by scheduling five shows instead of the usual four. The 2013 season has opened with a musical directed by the prodigiously gifted Brad Blake, who in turn has assembled a unique cast of TheatreWorks veterans including three married couples: Jonathan and KC Ross, Tom and Shannon-Courtney Denihan, and Kevin and Vicki Sosbe,  plus  veteran comic actor Tom Libonate.

The show is Adrift in Macao, a satirical spoof of those old classic noir films of the thirties and forties, set in the mysterious, fog shrouded harbor districts of the Orient.

Shots ring out. Rick, an expatriate American in a white dinner jacket, draws on a cigarette as he considers offering a job in his nightclub to a stranded blonde. Another American arrives, on the run from a false accusation of murder. A  slinky femme fatale issues veiled warnings of trouble to come. A sinister kimono-clad “Chinaman” offers inscrutable hints of criminal intrigue, and an assortment of mysterious strangers in shiny black trenchcoats hurry up and down the gangways of the set, which doubles as a tramp steamer and a labyrinth of waterfront dives.

Put it all together and you have fragments of a dozen or so B movies that show up on very late night television, or at art cinema festivals celebrating the memory of Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, Orson Welles and Rita Hayworth, Joseph Cotton and Ida Lupino, always in darkly shaded black and white, with cardboard-y sets, caricatured “natives” and plots that didn’t always make a whole lot of sense.

Anyhow, Adrift in Macao was originally conceived by Christopher Durang back in 2002.  Durang, who can be extremely funny and edgy — as in works like Beyond Therapy, The Actor’s Nightmare, and Sister Mary Ignatius Explains it All, the latter a slam on the mean nuns from the scary old days of  pre-Vatican II parochial school — wrote the book and the lyrics for this show,  with a musical score by Peter Melnick.

As such, it’s a great vehicle for the talented voices of the cast — especially Shannon-Courtney Denihan — as well as the comic talents of Tom Libonate, who steals the show with his campy antics, but in the end, there isn’t that much show to steal.

There is no real plot. I think how much you like it will depend on how much of an old movie buff you are, and how many jokes amuse you because you catch the references.

(Performances continue weekends until March 23, Friday and Saturday evenings at 8 and Sunday afternoons at 2.

Call 860-350-6863 or visit www.TheatreWorks.us for details and reservations.)

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