If you're pining for some big laughs — no "message," no "moral of the story," no ponderous thoughts — Sin, Sex & the C.I.A. is the show for you.
It's all for laughs, and laughs for all, and playing weekends through Jan. 30 at Richey Suncoast Theatre.
Director Rich Aront, an aficionado and connoisseur of zany physical humor (he played the shower cap-wearing best friend in Caught in the Net) guides his well-chosen cast members to pull out all the stops when defining their characters, exaggerating their quirks and taking each one right to the edge and over the top at just the right places.
Richey Suncoast regulars will be delighted to see their favorite comic actors in full sail, and both delighted and surprised to see others show comic sides never before seen.
Watch especially Star Verosic, who has mastered playing the gorgeous, sexy blond (Appassionata von Climax in Li'l Abner, or Barbara in Run for Your Wife, for instance) appearing in this show as a dowdy virgin with comic moves and gawky physical gyrations as uninhibited and fearless as a young Carol Burnett. It's not often that a stage beauty is able, much less willing, to appear as a homely buffoon, but Ms. Verosic does so with eye-popping gusto.
There's also comedy payoff with Drew Lundquist as bumbling rookie C.I.A. agent Luke James, who has been assigned to a remote "safe" cabin in the woods to keep watch over a government employee, the libido-driven Margaret Johnson (a delightfully cool Linda Luckenbach), as she negotiates a deal with a representative of the (mythical) Chagos Islands, which has just discovered the biggest oil deposit in the world.
The United States wants to head off offers from OPEC, and it's James' job to see that Johnson and the Chagos rep are left alone to do a deal before the Middle Easterners get to them.
James arrives at the cabin to find the target of Johnson's amorous intentions, tough-talking ex-Marine Daniel Warren (a hilarious Dennis Tekula), pretty much in charge, since the usual cabin occupant, Mr. Cole, reportedly has taken ill. Soon, the sanctimonious Rev. Samuel Abernathy (the dependably funny Bill Schommer) and his dense, frowzy secretary Millicent (Verosic) drop in, saying their car conked out on them down the road. Then neighbor Heather Faraday (a no-nonsense Jeaux Brown) arrives, saying an ongoing thunderstorm has doused her lights and she wants a place to stay — and it turns out to be in her bedroom with the cute ex-Marine.
Of course, the oil negotiations are just an excuse for sexual innuendoes and advances, double entendres, eye-rolling puns, and sight gags that come as fast as a back-country buzz saw. Sure, some of the gags are telegraphed before they happen, but who cares? It's not necessarily the surprise of the gag, it's the gag itself that earns the laughs.
When security-minded James announces he's wired the window to electrocute any intruders, for example, we know it's just a matter of time before he latches onto the window and lights up. Even so, it's laugh-out-loud funny when it happens. When James sneaks in with handcuffs to capture the villain, we know who's going to end up in shackles. Still, it's funny when we see it.
It doesn't even matter whether Schommer's Bible-thumping Rev. Abernathy is shown to be a hypocrite; what's funny is that he repeatedly looks like one.
Sin, Sex and the C.I.A. was written by Michael and Susan Parker, but it could easily pass for a Ray Cooney creation, which would likely be a-okay with Richey Suncoast patrons, including me. With floods, fires, snowstorms, and shootings everywhere else, it can be quite pleasant to sit in a dark theater and get lost in two hours of unabashed, unapologetic absurdity such as this.