|BACK STAGE WEST|
|Southern CA April 28, 2004
Reviewed By Jennie Webb
Yeah, Theresa Rebeck's Spike Heels has done some walking. A fixture on stages across the country for the past 10 years or so, this tight, smart, accessible, somewhat predictable comedy about (go figure) male/female relationships and power (and footwear) has (theoretically) the potential to make anyone look damn good. Except that, just as some people strain to appear comfortable in stilettos with mixed results, some actors simply fit better into Rebeck's writing--are more at home with her rapid-fire rhythms and high-stakes humor--than others.
The current staging of Rebeck's four-hander is ably directed by Paul Millet. Leslie Channon heads the cast as Georgie, your basic smarter-than-she-looks-trashy-blonde who is being lifted up from her working-class roots with Pygmalion-like aplomb by the requisite tight-ass-but-wants-to-get-dirty blueblood WASP, Andrew (a spot-on J. Richey Nash). The classic "friendship" between Georgie and Andrew -- which is naturally dripping with frustrated sexuality -- gets pushed to the next level by Andrew's pal, Edward (James Castle Stevens), a sleaze monkey of major proportions who boldly goes where the "snotty and polite" Andrew never dared.
It's also with Stevens' arrival that this production gets kicked up a notch. The slick and wonderfully funny Stevens has a handle on the simplicities and complexities of Rebeck's dialogue and the size of her characters. Whether his character is defending the finer points of a rape threat or dismissing his own vulnerability, Stevens cuts to the chase, and Edward comes off as the slimiest and most likeable of unlikely heroes.
Then add another layer of sexuality, jealousy, and manipulation with the arrival of the delightfully uptight Michelle Pratt as Lydia, Andrew's ice-princess fiancee -- and Edward's ex, of course. Pratt bursts into the proceedings and sets the stage for more relationship excavation, including the obligatory good-girl/bad-girl needy chick stuff, which follows the obligatory good-guy/bad-guy needy man stuff. Pratt's intelligence and lovely presence serves the material beautifully and complements Channon's portrayal of Georgie; Channon's evident skills and open honesty are appealing even if the actor doesn't take the role to the sometimes painful heights Spike Heels demands.