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Friday, April 9, 2010

Olympia Dukakis Fans Be Warned: ACT's 'Vigil' is Deadly Dull

Posted By on Fri, Apr 9, 2010 at 9:13 AM

click to enlarge Marco Barricelli and Olympia Dukakis in Vigil - KEVIN BERNE
  • Kevin Berne
  • Marco Barricelli and Olympia Dukakis in Vigil

If you're going to ACT's Vigil because you want to see a performance by Oscar-winner Olympia Dukakis, prepare to be mildly disappointed.

Oh, you'll see her. She's onstage for nearly the entire show. You just won't hear much from her -- maybe about a dozen lines total.

I like Dukakis but wouldn't call myself a rabid fan, so her near-silence doesn't particularly bother me. What does bother me, though, is that the play is about an hour too long and not nearly as funny as it thinks it is.

Vigil concerns a misanthropic ass (Marco Barricelli) who leaves his job to visit a dying aunt (Dukakis). Convinced that he might have something to gain from her impending death, he hangs around for months devising ways to end her misery.

That's a fine setup for a play. But playwright Morris Panych stuffs his script with so many obvious jokes -- then repeats those jokes over and over again -- that it becomes very tiresome very quickly. (The fact that ACT's easily amused audience keeps laughing at the same goddamn thing is another problem altogether.) Add in some very weak slapstick, and you have a show more suited for community theater than for a place reputed to be as good as ACT.

Granted, Panych does have a pretty good twist up his sleeve, but that twist isn't nearly good enough to sustain two hours of uninspired comedy. In fact, there's barely enough here for a decent one-act play -- which might explain my powerful desire to bolt at intermission.

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Chris Jensen

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