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Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2010

Memories’ Cast Tries to Rescue ‘Baggage’

Theater Review

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Memories Dinner Theater begins 2010 with the Midwest premiere of Sam Bobrick’s Baggage. The title has more than one meaning, referring not only to a mix-up of luggage at the airport, but also the emotional impediments we tend to carry through life.

For Bobrick, who offered the hysterically funny Murder atthe Howard Johnson’s, Baggage disappoints. Oh, the story advanced all right. But to visually compensate for the script’s near-total lack of movement, director James Iaquinta has his cast of four almost constantly on the move—one might even say in perpetual movement—in the leading lady's apartment. It doesn't work. Further, for the first time in a Bobrick play, the fourth wall is ignored; all four actors speak to the audience as if in confidence with a best friend, moving the leaden plot along.

For someone who wrote comedy for the Smothers Brothers, Paul Lynde and “The Andy Griffith Show,” Bobrick’s effort ceases to catch real comedic fire. A final irritation: body mikes and canned sound, making it just like watching TV, only in three-dimension. This intimate house surely doesn't require it.

Iaquinta's casting, however, is excellent. Milwaukee's favorite gal with the winning figures (Wisconsin Lottery's “Money Game” TV show), Lori Minetti, Memories’ regular leading man, Luke Kraemer, and the two comic reliefs, Rex Sikes and especially Lynn Klemm, turn on the talent to make the evening as rich as the buffet dinner, which respects vegetarian needs along with Memories' renowned broasted chicken.

Baggage will be performed Feb. 12-14 at Memories.

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