Paul Rudnick’s 2006 “Regrets Only” is a play about wisecracks, and if that’s enough to satisfy you, then you might enjoy Las Vegas Little Theatre’s production.
We’re in the home of the Upper East Side Manhattan hip and rich, who Rudnick pokes fun of in the most obvious ways. (“We’re exciting! We’ve tried cocaine! And fondue!”) Famous clothes designer Hank (Brian Scott) finds himself surprisingly offended when his famous attorney friend Jack (Peter Vitale) gets involved in an effort to support a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. The ground rule in the home of Jack and Tibby (Marlena Shapiro) always has been that longtime friends don’t debate politics. But Hank can’t let it go. He feels Jack is personally insulting him and his life. By the second act, Hank somehow manages to get gays to not go to work for a day, causing a national crisis.
Not a bad premise for a simple, drawing-room comedy. But Rudnick doesn’t seem to know what to do with his characters when they’re not making funny. The show has long stretches of inappropriate seriousness in which the author pontificates. (It’s not fair. The audience doesn’t get to talk back.)
Director Walter Niejadlik has brought forth a mostly expert cast. Vitale makes for an earnest, witty and likable legal big-shot. And Shapiro is at times breathtakingly and effortlessly elegant as his naive but well-meaning wife. She’s the most successful performer in rising above the material and creating a genuine character.
But Niejadlik is often too aware of where the laugh lines are. He adapts a presentational face-the-audience style that makes it impossible to forgive some of the limp material. His pacing is often deadly slow. And he hasn’t been able to establish much character logic. A maid (Gillen Brey) exists only to tell jokes. A high-priced attorney (Stacia Zinkevich) is so ditzy you can’t imagine how she could ever get it together enough to stand before a judge. By the time the usually reliable Barbara Costa, as Tibby’s mother, arrives in the second act — wearing shoe boxes for shoes, a plastic bag for a dress, and a take-out chicken bucket for a hat, all due to the “gay strike” — we’re exhausted by the heavy-handed goofiness.
Ron Lindblom’s set, though, gives us a good feel for the characters’ lifestyles. And Katie Bulava’s costumes highlight the cast’s most flattering angles.
Anthony Del Valle can be reached at DelValle@aol.com. You can write him c/o Las Vegas Review-Journal, P.O. Box 70, Las Vegas NV 89125.REVIEW
What: “Regrets Only”
When: 8 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays; 2 p.m. Sundays (through April 18)
Where: Las Vegas Little Theatre mainstage, 3920 Schiff Drive
Tickets: $19-$22 (362-7996; lvlt.org)