Opening Nights: One Slight Hitch

Lewis Black gets . . . timid?

After 30 years of tinkering, Lewis Black's would-be wedding farce is surprisingly bland and conventional, nothing like his rants on The Daily Show. One Slight Hitch is droll when it ought to be funny and hollow when it should be heartwarming. It's by no means terrible; it's just dinner theater.

Black's semi-autobiographical plot unfolds around the planned wedding of Courtney (Kimberley Sustad) to Harper (John Ulman), a cardboard cutout whose sole attribute is self-awareness of his own vapidity. Courtney's parents are in a tizzy before their little girl's big day. Baby sister P.B. (Katherine Grant-Suttie) trots out her Walkman every few minutes to remind us that we're in the early '80s, while older sibling Melanie (Kirsten Potter) is the black sheep, swilling liquor and oversharing tales of sexual conquest.

Into this buzzing hive of activity stumbles Ryan (Shawn Telford), the bride's jilted ex. A writer, he's the sort of nebbishy dreamer you'd prefer to encounter at a coffee shop, working on his never-to-be-finished novel, rather than at the altar opposite your daughter. Hilarity and hijinks ensue.

If his characters seem to have been ordered from, Black's plot will remind you of a half-dozen sitcom and movie weddings of the past three decades. That said, there are pleasures in the generic, and some will be tickled as the show rushes toward the anticipated exchange of vows. As written, One Slight Hitch seems to be about the bride and her suitors. As performed (under the direction of Joe Grifasi), it demonstrates time and again what a rock R. Hamilton Wright is. As Doc Coleman, the father of the bride, he gives the comedy what buoyancy it has. Each supporting cast member is at his or her best when working off him.

From a lesser comic talent than Black, One Slight Hitch would be, at worst, simply an inoffensive little gambol. But his fame—and our high expectations—works against him. With its mayo-on-white-bread timidity, this twaddle is well beneath him. Since Black really was dumped by an actress who said she'd never marry (and then married another fellow), you'd think his scab-picking would lead to some seriously funny stuff. Instead, One Slight Hitch puts a vintage Band-Aid on a superficial wound.

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