**** Recommended **** Towle Theater’s new production, Jim Henry’s new play “Crashing with Flamingos”, is a quirky little play about married life and unexpected guests. It’s funny yet poignant, and it has a lot to say. Just when I thought I’d figured out where it was going, off it went in a whole new direction. “Crashing with Flamingos” gets 4 Spotlights.
In the interests of disclosure, I want to mention that Jim Henry is a friend of mine. I met his wife, Dona, soon after I started writing TheareScene, my column in the NWI Times. I met Jim soon after. I first saw one of Jim’s plays at Chicago Street Theatre in Valparaiso, where both Jim and Dona are company members. . A resident playwright at Chicago Dramatists, Jim saw his first play, “The Angels of Lemnos” produced at that venue. “Angels” went on to win a Jeff Award for Best New Work.
As the story opens, Peg Flamingo (Amy Gorelow) is sitting on a hide-a-bed sofa holding a child’s pink umbrella which she hid under the pillows when her husband, Eric (Michael Pine), came out of the bedroom dressed for work. As they talked about why Peg was on the couch, it was obvious that Eric was trying to avoid upsetting his wife. When he mentioned that he smelled pastrami, she showed him a sandwich.
After work, Eric is having a beer with Bury (Andrew Stachurski), who’d just been laid off. Bury is distraught because his roommate hasn’t been paying his half of the rent, and he’s afraid the landlord will evict them. On the other hand, he wants nothing must upset his roommate until after he’s pitched in the baseball league finals. After a few too many beers, Eric and Bury stagger back to Eric’s apartment trying not to wake Peg, who happens to be hiding under the kitchen table.
After Eric has gone to work in the morning, Peg shares a lot with Bury, telling him about getting fired for sexual harassment. Bury recognizes that Peg is depressed and suggests that she might want to see someone. She says she’s just fine – even though she hasn’t left the apartment in nearly a year. When she demands that Bury make her a cup of tea, brewed the English way, he slips a Xanax into the cup. When Eric comes home, she drags him into the bedroom.
Still feeling the effects of the Xanax, Peg drags Eric off for an Atlantic City weekend. Since they’ll be gone until Sunday and the landlord has locked them out of their apartment, Eric brings Lou (Dustin Sutliff) over to crash at the Flamingos with him. Unfortunately, when the Xanax wears off, Peg becomes a raging witch, and they come home early, only to find Lou sleeping on their couch.
Married life is tough enough for the Flamingos – do they really need crashers with issues too? These crazy people grow on you!
“Crashing with Flamingos” runs through March 13th at the Towle Theater, 5205 Hohman Avenue, Hammond. Running time is just under two hours with an intermission. Performances are Thursdays through Saturdays at 8:00 pm; Sundays at 2:00. Tickets are $19. Parking is free. FYI (219) 937-8780 or www.towletheater.org.