FISHING FOR LAUGHS
If you are now or were at some point a wannabe entertainment professional, chances are you’re no stranger to slinging hash in a greasy spoon to make ends meet. Playwright David J. Duman spent his formative years dishing up organic eats to some of San Francisco’s “most particular, demanding, and ridiculous diners.” He has now turned those experiences into Fishing, a slight comedic diversion currently playing at the Archway Theatre in Downtown L.A.
There is nothing new or groundbreaking about workplace comedies; they have been a staple forever. While theatergoers who have a personal knowledge of the setting (restaurant, TV station, office) probably have the inside track to getting the jokes, the trick is to make the characters and story universal enough to keep the uninitiated entertained. Duman is up to the task and mostly succeeds in assembling an interesting enough group to keep the crowd engaged—sarcastic waiters (Chase McKenna, Clayton Farris), a food obsessed chef (Christopher W. Jones), an overworked manager (Shani Tennyson), and persnickety patrons/food critics (Peter James Smith, Liz Heathcoat).
The dialogue is quite witty—and at times very funny—albeit not particularly insightful or revealing. The plot is totally inconsequential; it is what it is—life, love and laughs in the linguini lane. What little story there is unfolds in a series of blackout sketches, some as short as one line; and therein lays the show’s big problem: it feels like a film script which is way too frenetic instead of a play in which we get to know the characters better.
Under the direction of David Marmor, the action moves along at this brisk pace; his actors, even though most of them are giving stock cookie-cutter interpretations of their roles, are on the money for what they are called to do. The characters, although broadly drawn, are familiar Sitcom-esque creations that are ultimately easy to swallow. Mr. Jones does manage to find some humanity in Thomas, the chef/owner, and is the standout in the cast.
If you are looking for a full ten-course theater experience, you’d be better dine elsewhere. But if you are in the mood for some light and fluffy fare, Fishing will probably satiate your appetite. On a side note: be sure to attend on a cool day; the theater is not air conditioned and the building holds the heat from the day. I saw the show during our recent heat wave and it was unbearably hot and came very close to totally ruining the entire experience.
photos by Charlie Wright
Archway Theatre in Los Angeles
scheduled to end on September 22, 2012
for tickets, call (213) 237-9933 or visit here