Home > Cynthia Citron, Theatre, Uncategorized > Hamlin disappoints in ‘The Jesus Hickey’

Hamlin disappoints in ‘The Jesus Hickey’

By Cynthia Citron

Cynthia Citron

LOS ANGELES–Agnes Flynn’s dad doesn’t want her to go to the embankment to neck with Seamus O’Malley.  But she does anyway and Seamus, in a fit of lust, bites her on the neck.  No, he isn’t a vampire, but his bite affects her as profoundly as if he were.  It transforms her not into the undead, but into a saint!

So begins Luke Yankee’s sweetly charming new play, The Jesus Hickey, now having its world premiere at the Skylight Theatre in L.A.  And, as the title indicates, Seamus’ bite leaves a hickey that inexplicably incorporates the face of Jesus.

Overnight, Agnes becomes a star in the small Irish town of Sligo, revered by some, feared by others, and seen as the devil’s spawn by still others.  Leaving the dismayed Agnes to wail, “If I’m so special, why don’t I have any friends?”

Anastasia Lofgren plays Agnes with an appealing schoolgirl innocence and her real-life husband, Aaron Leddick, plays the somewhat goofy Seamus.  Playing Agnes’ tyrannical “Da” is Harry Hamlin, thin and gray-haired but still as handsome as he was during his years on L.A. Law.  But the real star of the show is Barbara Tarbuck, who plays “Grandmaire,” the tough-talking, pragmatic, and totally lovable matriarch of the house.  Over the top and sometimes overly shrill, she is, nevertheless, the hilarious center of this universe, foul-mouthed and lewd and very very funny.  (Sample dialogue: explaining why some townsfolk are leery of Agnes, “They’re afraid she’ll turn them into a pillar of shite.”  And, attempting to talk Agnes out of her infatuation with Seamus: “It’s well known that the O’Malley’s all have wee Jolly Rogers…”)

Sadly, Hamlin is the weak link in this stellar cast.  Conniving and overwrought, he shouts his lines angrily even when it isn’t necessary, leaving himself little leeway when hyper-emotion is called for.  He plays a man with little warmth and even less depth, and so it’s hard to muster much sympathy for his character.

Two others in the cast provide competent cameos: Tom Killam as Father Boyle and Roddy Jessup as a neighbor, Paddy Martin.  And Jeff McLaughlin has done a terrific job with the set and lighting design, as has Joanie Coyote with the costumes (Grandmaire’s gray silk suit in the second act is a smash!)

Playwright Luke Yankee serves as director for this production, produced by Gary Grossman for the Katselas Theatre Company.  The play will continue at the Skylight Theatre, 1816 North Vermont, in Los Angeles, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 through July 11th.  Call (310) 358-9936 for reservations.

Citron is Los Angeles bureau chief of San Diego Jewish World

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