LATHAM – It’s difficult to define “Skin Deep,” a play that runs at Curtain Call Theatre in Latham through March 25. It’s a sweet and tender play about two people who need to be loved but it’s hard to determine if it’s a play with a lot of humor or a comedy with a lot of heart.
The uncertainty is because director Rachael Sheffer plays it a little cautious with the material and the style of the presentation. She uses an even pace throughout that does not build on the comedy in the material and holds back on the desperation that drives the central characters.
Be it comedy or drama, it is, nonetheless, a pleasant two hours of theater.
Maureen Mulligan is overweight, unhappy and unfulfilled. She is the type of person who anticipates the disapproval of others and tries to deflect rejection by being the first to point out her flaws with comic remarks about her size. Years ago she was left at the alter and ever since has been hiding in the refrigerator – right behind the ice cream and next to the leftover pizza.
Maureen is smart and funny and everything suggests she would be a kind and loyal companion. For sure that’s the way Joe Spinelli feels about her upon meeting on a blind date. He’s a sad sack of a man who sees the woman as attractive, clever and witty. Joe lacks focus in life but he is determined to pursue Maureen.
Though you want the two to be happy, you sometimes have to wonder why you care. Joe is kind, understanding and forgiving to the point that these virtues almost become character flaws. Maureen has been self-depreciating so long that her comments about herself come close to self-loathing.
Fortunately Angela B. Potrikus is such a good actress she forces you to understand what Joe sees in her. In much the same way, Lonnie Honsinger makes you wish the passive Joe could be your best friend. Indeed, though logic tells you different, you believe there is happy ever after for the couple.
Giving the play some complexity is the relationship of Maureen’s sister Sheila and her husband Squire. They are a power-couple who prove beauty itself is not the secret formula for happiness.
Amy Fiebke plays the attractive Sheila who despite outward appearances is as insecure as her sister. She keeps a plastic surgeon in luxury in an effort to counter middle-age through artificial physical enhancements. Sky Vogel captures the arrogance of a wealthy man who knows he’s attractive to women, but is unable to let his wife know he finds her companionship more appealing than her appearance.
They have a wise scene in act two that is so satisfying you wish Joe and Maureen could have been as emotionally honest with each other.
There is a saying that states beauty is in the eye of the beholder. “Skin Deep” says no one can behold your beauty until you see it yourself.
“Skin Deep” at Curtain Call Theatre in Latham. Thursdays – Sundays until March March 25. For tickets and schedule information 877-7529.
Bob Goepfert is theater reviewer for the Troy Record.
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