- Kurt Gonsalves
BALANCED MEAL Lucky Penny lets it all hang out for 'Five Course Love.'
There's irony to be found in the fact that a guy with the surname "Coffin" wrote one of the liveliest theatrical productions I've attended in a while. Five Course Love by playwright/composer Greg Coffin is the show and it runs through March 1 at the Lucky Penny Community Arts Center in Napa.
The show consists of five comedic, love-themed vignettes, each set in a different restaurant and each involving three characters. Actors Sarah Lundstrom, F. James Raasch and Brian Watson take on the 15 roles, with Lundstrom and Raasch usually playing a couple and Watson handling server/chef duties.
The show opens at Dean's Old-Fashioned All-American Down-Home Bar-B-Que Texas Eats where a nervous nerd (complete with pocket protector) awaits the arrival of his social media–arranged date. Her name is Barbie, and she's looking for her Ken. Neither is really who they claim to be in their online profiles.
A quick change of tablecloth and we're at Trattoria Pericolo, where a gangster's moll is having a secret rendezvous with one of her boyfriend's underlings. Things get dicey when the mob boss shows up.
Things get bawdy at Der Schlupfwinkel Speiseplatz after a body is carted off. A dominatrix discovers her server boyfriend is seeing someone on the side, as is she. In no time at all the three will be doing "Der Bumsen-Kratzentatz."
After a brief intermission, it's off to Ernesto's Cantina where a señorita has to choose between two men's affections.
The show closes at the Star-Lite Diner, where a greaser can't see the forest for the trees when he seeks the help of a girl to find his one, true love. Things then neatly wrap around to one of the earlier characters.
Told in a very compact 95 minutes (including an intermission), Five Course Love resembles a series of musical comedy sketches from the old Carol Burnett Show. Lundstrom even resembles Burnett in both appearance and talent, and Raasch and Watson ably fill out the Harvey Korman and Tim Conway–type roles. They also can sing, which is good, because there are 23 original songs in the production.
Yes, it's played over-the-top, with ridiculous wigs, quick costume changes, outrageously exaggerated accents and stereotypical characters that wouldn't pass a cultural-sensitivity test, but the Heather Buck–directed cast is just so damn charming you can't help but smile and laugh at their antics.
Five Course Love will satiate your appetite for silliness.
Rating (out of 5): ★★★★★
'Five Course Love' plays through March 1 at the Lucky Penny Community Arts Center, 1758 Industrial Way, Napa. Thursday, 7pm; Friday–Saturday, 8pm; Sunday, 2pm. $30–$40. 707.266.6305. luckypennynapa.com.