Destination Vegas (Stage 1, Westbury Theatre)
By Liz Nicholls, 12thnight.ca
The premise of Trevor Schmidt’s new comedy is right there, amusingly (in front of a cactus) for all the world to see, from the first lights-up moment of Destination Vegas.
Three women, in their sparkly on-the-town party dresses, are onstage, handcuffed together. Now there’s a tickling sort of stagecraft challenge for the playwright, who also directs this Whizgiggling production. An action adventure in which the participants are chained together, start to finish?
It implies, strongly, that the question ‘what could go wrong?’ has already been answered. And it hints, also quite strongly, that what happens in Vegas does indeed stay in Vegas. They’re in the middle of the desert in the middle of the night, digging a shallow grave big enough for three, highly motivated by a man with a gun. (Gratuitous life coach suggestion: maybe they should have seen a Cirque du Soleil show instead of hitting the casino).
It seemed like a good idea at the time, three employees of Pennywise grocery deciding to have a girls weekend in Sin City to use up their vacation time owing before it’s yanked by the forces of conglomerate capitalism.
Paula (Cheryl Jameson), who has an enigmatic tattoo possibly acquired behind bars, is a dab hand with numbers (and, you know, counting things, like money or maybe cards); the getaway is her idea. Charmaine (Kristin Johnston) is a Russian emigré with an exotic accent, and a dark history as a serial widow. She’s looking for Mr. Next while “I’m still young and very beautiful.”
Marcie (Michelle Todd) is the naif of the trio, a mom loathe to leave the twins with her hubbie. But hey, it’s not her first Vegas rodeo. “I used to be a dancer in a Vegas magic show,” she reveals. Her dimbulb reactions to every dark development, accompanied by “shut up Marcie!” from Paula, have a hilarity all their own.
Destination Vegas is a sort of backward-spooling caper, that involves blackjack tables and sinister guys named Sting or Snake. The plot doesn’t have the intricacy of last Fringe’s Whizgiggling production, Trevor Schmidt’s Destination Wedding.
It’s light and fun, though. The writing is funny. The staging of necessity involves amusing choreography (it pretty much nails the concept “ensemble”). And the interplay of three skilled actors is something entertaining to seek out, like a mai tai with an umbrella.
I mean, no one goes to Vegas for King Lear, right?