“Stuck” mirrors real life, but funnier
In Tandem Theater artistic director Chris Flieller and his wife, administrative director Jane Flieller, heard a sharp ear for dialogue in early readings of Stuck, young Neil Haven‘s new play.
Havens’ snappy chatter recalls bygone screwball romantic comedies, such as His Girl Friday or The Gay Divorcee, in which a smack across the nose inevitably leads to true love. Still, the play is hardly a nostalgic rip-off of Ghosts of Hollywood Past. While the play takes place in a throwback hotel complete with an elevator girl in a sideways hat, I don’t recall Fred Astaire fending off hookers and downing one Horny Goat brew after another.
Leia Espericueta is endlessly charming as the agoraphobic elevator operator, Ella. She and costar Nicholas Harazin, as Ian (the classic Good Guy), have an easy chemistry. Stuck is campy, silly fun, and the two embrace it with unbounded energy.
Allison Mary Forbes as Ian’s wife, Melissa, and Libby Amato as Gillian, the prostitute Melissa hires to try to seduce Ian, are appropriately exhausting. Melissa’s incessant chattering and Gillian’s ridiculous vamp make Ella look like the best choice to Ian.
Some of the play’s funniest moments come from Doug Jarecki and Karen Estrada, who each play several different characters, including a maid who is constantly trying to identify “mystery stains,” a bartender offering up sage advice, and a couple suspiciously aroused by the idea of going to the laundry room. Jarecki and Estrada are skilled character actors, and Haven gave them great material.
Stuck is not simply a screwball comedy; it’s a call to arms for those trapped in jobs they hate, biding their time in a in a dead relationship, or paralyzed by their own fears of moving forward.
Stuck plays the 10th Street Theatre through March 14. For tickets, visit the In Tandem website or call 414-271-1371.