BY JULIE SUTHERLAND
When your parents die from an Aston Martin falling from the skies, the only thing to do is to become a vampire. Or a rabbi. Or try to become one or the other. Right?
Thus begins the quirky Hallowe’en thriller comedy Sucker, by Kat Sandler. Is it funny? you ask. Scary? Sad? All three? At times Sucker is genuinely funny, especially in the second act. If you’re finding the first act dragging ever so slightly, hold tight. Better things are to come. Funnier, scarier, more heart-rending things. Because all the characters are suffering in their own eccentric ways, and you will find yourself resonating with them even if you don’t want to move to Israel, drink rabbit or horse (or human) blood or be an adolescent goth.
Sucker is brought to you by a team with a long pedigree of successes. It includes playwright Kat Sandler who wrote the hilarious and dark Punch-Up that played at the HAT last year. Sucker offers the same quirky thrills doled out in the earlier play. The team also includes director Ron Jenkins, a local lad-done-very-good, who wrote and directed the excellent wolfish drama, Extinction Song, which I hope you saw last May.
The actors cohere brilliantly in Sucker’s final, “sad party” scene, which despite what that descriptor points to, is truly hilarious, especially when the junior attorney Carter (played by the hugely talented Mark Delaney) invites total chaos to enter the scene with him. This is Sandler, Jenkins and the actors at their best, though many minutes prior to this are equally successful. Hilary Scott plays a most-compassionate vampire whose consistent dedication to living the expected life of her new-found self is as hilarious as it is poignant. Mark Delaney naturally draws cringes as a sleazy lawyer (Carter) whose conscience rebukes him at every turn. Both Tayves Fiddis (Jamie) and Nancy Orkish (Constance) capably handle playing “types” without parodying them too much – Jamie is an aspiring rabbi who doesn’t understand the intricacies of Judaism, and Constance is a “crazy cat lady” who suffers from a bad case of guilt for being a possible husband-slayer and failed mom. Highest honours must go to Andy Gouthro whose capacity to deliver dead-pan comedy as Aenthe (they’ll let you know how that’s pronounced) knew no bounds. Dressed in a skeleton onesie replete with a cute pink heart, Gouthro didn’t falter for a single second as his character unfolded and his secrets came out.
Even though you’ve met all these characters somewhere before – the alienated teenager, the crazy cat lady, the pathetic junior attorney, the lost-boy-turned-to-religion, and the vampire – you’ve never seen them in this combination, nor have you encountered them telling this quirky, chilling tale. Don’t miss out.
Sucker runs through Sunday night (October 23) at the Highland Arts Theatre.