'T-Bone N Weasel': lightweight laughs

October 02, 1991|By J. Wynn Rousuck

Pity those fools -- T-Bone and Weasel.

The title characters in Jon Klein's comedy at Fells Point Corner Theatre seem to live by the philosophy in the song lyric: "If it wasn't for bad luck, I wouldn't have no luck at all."

When these two ex-cons attempt to hold up a liquor store, the drawer of the cash register turns out to be jammed shut. Then while T-Bone tries to force it open, Weasel and the proprietor find out they're from the same town; in other words, not only can the victim I.D. them by sight, he also knows Weasel's name and address. Heading out in despair -- with less money than they had coming in -- they discover their car's fan belt has given up too.

Actually, the misadventures of these two losers -- dramatized in a series of short scenes -- are more apt to provoke laughter than pity. And this production, directed by Susan Kramer, is funny.

However, even though Paul Ellis and Joe Leatherman portray their characters with affection, "T-Bone N Weasel" -- with its rural Southern setting and cast of eccentric supporting characters -- falls firmly in the make-fun-of-the-yokels genre.

Except for the performances, the only element that elevates it even slightly is the theme of friendship. But that's handled tritely. This is just another buddy play -- specifically, a play about buddies on the road.

Of the two leads, Mr. Ellis, as T-Bone, has a firmer grasp of his character, who genuinely seems capable of planning and committing a crime. Mr. Leatherman's Weasel, however, is a tad too cute. It's easier to believe that T-Bone would take him on as a mascot than as a partner.

A word about the supporting characters. There are nine of them, ranging from "Happy Sam," the mean-spirited used-car dealer, to Verna Mae Beaufort, a nymphomaniac ugly enough "to gag a maggot." All nine are comically played by Tom Nolte, who changes accents as quickly as costumes. That's the play's chief gimmick, and Mr. Nolte makes the most of it.

Admittedly, not every play has to have redeeming social significance. But Fells Point Corner usually chooses fare of a slightly meatier variety. In "T-Bone N Weasel," when T-Bone hungers for "a real meal," he announces, "We gonna go and get some Spam." With apologies to Spam fans, that pretty much sums up this play's nutritional value.

"T-Bone N Weasel" continues at Fells Point Corner Theatre weekends through Oct. 27; call 276-7837.

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