Unfocused 'Reckless' barely touches weighty issues

March 22, 1991|By J. Wynn Rousuck

'Reckless'

When: Fridays and Saturdays at 8:30 p.m.; Sundays at 7 p.m.; matinees March 24 and April 7 at 2 p.m. Through April 7.

Where: Fells Point Corner Theatre, 251 S. Ann St.

Tickets: $7.

Call: 276-7837.

** 1/2 Are we in charge of what happens to us? Or is life sometimes reckless with us?

In Craig Lucas' "Reckless," a psychiatrist suggests that random recklessness is the problem afflicting the main character, a housewife and mother whose husband takes out a contract on her life.

A murder threat is one of the less macabre events in this episodic absurdist comedy, currently at Fells Point Corner Theatre. In subsequent scenes, two people die of poisoning, a third is shot and a puppy suffocates.

Under the direction of Terry J. Long -- who also directed Mr. Lucas' "Blue Window" last season -- these grim scenes are staged in a setting as bright and colorful as a kindergarten classroom. Designed by Tony Mileto and Robin Roberts, the scenery consists primarily of movable cubes and triangles; there's even a whimsical kiddie car propelled by foot power.

Thematically, the play also poses the question that forms the basis for Mr. Lucas' current Broadway hit, "Prelude to a Kiss": How well can we truly know someone else?

In "Reckless," almost everyone has changed his identity -- at least once. Escaping her husband's murder plot, the housewife accepts a ride from a stranger; she then moves in with him and his paraplegic wife and adopts a false name and background.

But the stranger, who calls himself Lloyd, and his wife, who calls herself Pooty, aren't who they appear to be, either. Richard Dean Stover's generous Lloyd, Tracey Post's positive-minded Pooty and Maribeth Vogel Eckenrode's ever-cheerful housewife seem noble and upstanding, but they've all run away from something in their past. And, even in Mr. Lucas' absurdist world, the past catches up with them.

Intriguing though it may be thematically, this sprawling comedy makes the same points over and over. And in the process, it barely skims the surface of such weighty issues as child abandonment and moral responsibility.

Fells Point Corner has mounted an inventive, well-acted production. Kimberley Lynne, in particular, is a hoot as the housewife's bizarre array of psychiatrists.

But this is a play in dire need of focus. Structurally speaking, Mr. Lucas has been reckless with "Reckless."

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