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On Theater: Wedding jitters exacerbated with wonderfully witty bite

August 02, 2012|By Tom Titus | By Tom Titus

Think of striking oil in your own backyard and you'll have the perfect metaphor for "Enlightenment.com," the second and final offering of Vanguard University's professional arm, the American Coast Theater Company.

The playwright, Warren Doody, has taught English at Vanguard for 14 years and written several other scripts, one of which, "Development," will be part of Vanguard's 2012-13 season. As for "Enlightenment.com," it's as sharp, fresh and funny as anything you'll see this year.

Love in the digital age is the theme for this ultra-modern comedy, which blends its sitcom plot with the farcical antics of its minor characters, which is a misnomer; all six of the players make major contributions.

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Director Susan K. Berkompas, the creator and motivating force behind ACTC, delivers a snappy, upbeat production of this treatise on pre-wedding jitters, and casts her most accomplished actress — herself — in a key supporting role. It's a lot for one woman's plate, but Berkompas is adept at multi-tasking.

Doody's plot centers on Vince (Jeff Fazakerley), a nervous guy in his 30s who's about to wed for the first time to Bonnie (Andrea Carpenter), who has her own reservations, starting with the fact that Vince almost got married once before, but his fiancee left him at the altar and he still may be carrying a torch.

The situation is hardly alleviated by the arrival of Dixie, Bonnie's Southern-fried mother (Berkompas), who's no great fan of Vince and believes her daughter could do better. Roiling the waters even further is Brad (James McHale), Vince's buddy and best man, a pediatrician who meddles electronically into the proceedings.

Stirring things to a boil are the arrivals of two old flames: a pixilated English professor (Paul Eggington), who once dated Bonnie despite a wide age difference, and Alison (Kristi Pruett), the gal who walked out on Vince before fleeing for an ashram in India.

Fazakerley attacks Doody's dialogue with relish, the kind you spread on hot dogs, as he steers this snappy comedy in and out of farcical waters. Carpenter isn't quite as sharp, but she makes the most out of her showcase scenes and holds her own in times of conflict.

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