The high energy performances from the cast and the crisp, smooth direction of Patti Gatto keep the action moving forward. Ms. Gatto is to be commended for staging the movement and logistics of a somewhat large cast on a one-set stage especially during the times where there is frenetic activity.
The plot is simple: three tourists Marion, Walter and daughter Susan Hollander from New Jersey (er, “Joisey”) are finishing up their visit of a non-descript country behind the Iron Curtain during the Cold War when they are mistaken for spies. They seek refuge in the American Embassy and soon discover they also need to seek refuge from the ineptitude of the son of the American diplomat who is currently overseeing things for his traveling father. He sort of got them into this mess to begin with. It seems that a priest, Father Drobney, has also taken refuge six years earlier and plays magician to pass the time. A KBG type called Krojak makes periodic menacing and threatening visits to let them all know that one day they will all be his to deal with. Naturally, the Hollanders do not like that idea and seek to prove they are not spies and want to go back to Jersey as planned. Not so easy that.
Chris Polo and Steve Caporiccio play Marion and Walter Hollander, pulling out all the stops in their portrayal of a couple with distinct personalities, Jerseyisms, and strong opinions. Their comedic timing and delivery makes a good script and dialogue all that much better. Their frustration and angst at being captive in the Embassy, and interaction with the rest of the house staff and guests is hilarious. Both actors successfully resist the temptation to make the characters one-note and stereotypical which in lesser hands could be their fate on stage. Father Drobney (John Zinzi), a narrator and a character, is a hoot with his passion for magic. The bumbling and ambitious Axel Magee (Will McVay) is funny and would be even funnier if the actor would loosen up a little and not be ball-fisted all the time. One of my favorite characters was Krojak (Denis Stanton), the KGB-type who made quite an impact, considering how much stage time he had. Stanton was able to make the character menacing without being too heavy in this comedy. He had a certain wryness in his performance that played quite well.
The theater was practically full for opening night and the audience clearly enjoyed the show as much as this reviewer. You can’t go wrong with an excellent cast, direction and witty script.
DON’T DRINK THE WATER
by Woody Allen
Directed by Patti Gatto
April 29 – May 14, 2011
Kent County Theatre Guild
140 E. Roosevelt Ave
Dover, DE 19901