Crash and Burn PA – Legal Please

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Crash and Burn PA

A REVIEW BY PANDORA LOCKS

“Comedy is unusual people in real situations, farce is real people in unusual situations.”  
-Chuck Jones

Robert Bowie Jr.’s Crash and Burn PA, a show spawned by Theatrical Mining Company by way of the Baltimore Playwright’s Festival, is, indeed, a farce.  One that, even if the characters are a bit 2D for my taste, is worth the visit.  Bowie Jr. has given us an fair imitation of lawyerese antics, with a touch of political commentary thrown in.  If you’re feeling a little bogged down by, you know, the news in general, and feel like some physical humor and preposterous situations, it’s your lucky night.  

The law offices of Crash and Burn, the setting for this mischief, are…a little nutty.  We’ve got Ophilia (Penny Nichols) a fast-talking, overly animated law secretary.  Brenda (Jessica Taylor) shows up to secure a custodial position.  Burn (Tom Piccin), a down to earth lawyer, mostly working on wills, is being driven to the brink of insanity by his partner Crash (Robert Ingbretson).  Crash has failed to pay the rent for the last three months, but don’t worry, he’s got a big name client and big check coming.  This is just the kind of stuff that happens over at Crash and Burn.  Although farce is usually all about an elaborate plot with a bunch of twists and turns that the audience can barely follow, this missing moola caper was pretty elementary to solve.  It’s fairly tightly woven, performed with comic prowess and a nicely fast pace.  

Ingbretson steals the show as Crash, a smooth talking, ambulance chasing, full-of-himself type.  His physical comedy is on point and I believed his slimy lawyer delivery 100% (it’s the sort of performance where I feel moved to say that I’m sure Mr. Ingbretson is most likely quite a nice man in real life).  The delivery, antics, fidgets, are well-timed and well-calculated.  Crash could be the poster child for ADHD.  The cast is rounded out by Ian Smith as Officer Foote and  John D’Amato’s Milty, a millionaire buying the election process.  D’Amato hits delightfully close to home for this red/blue season, and Smith shines when he’s taking the heat instead of being the HEAT.  

The production takes place in the upstairs theater of Fells Point Corner Theater, a smaller space that director Barry Feinstein makes excellent use of.  Actors zigzag across the stage, using the entire the playing area to maximum potential.  There is no noted costumer, but I loved the matching elements as part of the mistaken identity bits (especially a gag where Crash’s tie is an imitation of an original, expensive one, but tied incorrectly).  Lighting (Charles Danforth III) and stage construction (Bush Greenbeck ) are solid, with easy transitions and lots of Scooby Doo style door slamming sequences.   
BOTTOM LINE:  If you want a carefree night of fun and laughs (and are maybe tired of the wheezing political shit storm) this is your ticket.  It’s a pretty classic comedy, and it’s fun to support local playwrights.  Go ahead, laugh at some fictional follies for the evening.  It’s pretty damned refreshing.

Running at Fells Point Corner Theater until August 14th.

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