Edgy ‘Chesapeake’ elicits laughs, offers ideas to mull
Lee Blessing’s “Chesapeake” is not the sort of play you’d normally expect to see at Little Lake Theatre.
Over its 55 seasons, Little Lake has built its reputation and audiences on neatly done productions of comfortable, familiar plays such as “Life with Father” and “The Matchmaker,” fast-paced farces and, lately, the occasional production of plays by William Shakespeare or Moliere.
Somewhat edgy and outspoken in its political and social philosophy, “Chesapeake” is likely to bewilder some of Little Lake’s traditional patrons and outrage others.
The one-man show features Little Lake veteran Art DeConciliis as Kerr, a bisexual actor whose performance art piece runs afoul of an ambitious, election-bent U.S. senator. Kerr resolves to avenge himself by kidnapping the senator’s dog, Lucky, whom the senator uses as an eternal photo-op magnet for his campaign.
The plan is to not just steal the dog, but to transfer his loyalty from the senator to Kerr. He’ll videotape the process to show as his next work of art.
Kerr’s plan goes awry, with consequences that are alternately tragic, thought-provoking and wildly hilarious.
Performing on a bare stage, aided only by a half-dozen folding chairs and a plethora of recorded barks, howls and whines, DeConciliis engages the audience and entertains them with narrative and a variety of characterizations. Director Sunny Disney Fitchett keeps the pacing lively and swift, knowing where to slow down to linger on a moment and when to move things along.
The story itself is intriguing enough. But the production also manages to mine Blessing’s lively meditations about the philosophy of art — why artists make it and how we approach it, as well as how we understand and interact with those who see life differently than we do.
It’s the sort of play you’d expect to find City Theatre tackling and, in fact, the company has it on its schedule for next spring. But development increasingly blurs the distinctions between town and country. There’s no reason why suburbanites should have to drive into town to satisfy their appetites for plays with substance and bite, as well as laughter.
Nor is Little Lake that distant that those who live elsewhere should not avail themselves of this provocative, amusing and well-done production.
The Little Lake Theatre Company’s production of ‘Chesapeake’ continues through Oct. 11 at Little Lake Theatre, off Route 19 South near Donaldson’s Crossroads in North Strabane.
Performances: 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays; 2 p.m. Sundays. Tickets: $12.50 to $14; $8 for children; $36 for dinner and show. Details: (724) 745-6300.