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A boisterous affair

‘The Tropical Pickle’ performs tantalizingly

Now showing at the Over the Ledge Theatre Co.’s summer home at the Ledges Playhouse is — drumroll please — Jeff Daniels’ “Tropical Pickle.”

Imagine a pickle, a cucumber soaked in a brine of papaya enzyme.

I won’t be gherkin you all around, folks, pickles are an acquired taste. Maybe a tropical one will be the one to tickle your fancy, but maybe not. The cast certainly tries.

This is one of playwright Daniels’ first plays, but not his best. The slap-schtick of the play could be a prequel for one of the dumbest of the “Dumb and Dumber” movies.

Somewhere in this merry mayhem of hysteria, there is the thread of a plot, something about a pickle that went bad.

No matter. Director Bob Robinson has instructed his small cast of avenging actors to pull out all the stops and roll out their deepest inner Bizarros. Local comic favorite Laura Croff leads the class in the role of Peggy Lee, channeling the most extreme, exaggerative movements of Lucille Ball or Buster Keaton.

She has a knack for an improvisational movement style on stage which has the feeling that she is making it up as she goes along.

The storyline — what story there is — starts out with Bob Lee, played by veteran actor Michael Hays. Lee, the plant manager of the Shankleferd Pickle Co., hopes to convince his boss to send him to the Annual Condiment Convention in Miami.

Lee is the butt of everyone else’s jokes, but Hays demonstrates a newly discovered flair for comedy and holds his own against the more intuitive Croff, who always seems to know exactly how much edge to put into a comic moment.

The play begins, on a high-pitched, frantic, desperate and shrill high note of histrionics, and then, as Lee’s plans fall apart, descends into screeches, shouts, screams, all the way to pratfalls and pants falling down.

As Peggy Lee’s daughter Sally Hecksel throws in a delightfully insouciant, lowkey performance that complements Hays’ and Croff ’s bombast. Hecksel and Croff do some great scene work together, overlapping lines with great ease.

Heath Sartorius portrays Dwayne Darlington, a mentally scattered adolescent. It’s a supporting role without many lines, but great stage movement.

Sartorius’ father, Charles, is also portrayed by Dwayne. He shows up on stage as the owner of the pickle factory, and is appropriately sartorial. Rachel Mender rounds out the cast as the woman who accompanies him, Virginia Van Brinker- Smythe but with few lines throughout Act II, to fateful last scene.

The highlight of these actions is a wonderfully spastic moment where Chris Goeckel, as Ed Bonetti, steals the show (spoiler alert) ending with a very loud fart.

Yes, there is a fart joke. Does the plot of “Tropical Pickle” make sense?

Does it matter?

“The Tropical Pickle”

Over the Ledge Theatre Co. Through Aug. 13, 2017, Thurs.-Sat. 8 p.m.; Sun. 2 p.m. $10/$8 Senior 55kknd/Student $6 137 Fitzgerald Park Drive, Grand Ledge, (517) 318-0579, overtheledge.org/the-tropicalpickle.html


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