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Published on April 25th, 2012 | by RLn Staff

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Review With a Little Panache

[slideshow]

By John Farrell

Panache, the play that opened at Little Fish Theatre last Friday, is supposed to be all about a license plate. Holly Baker-Kreiswirth plays Kathleen Trafalgar, a socialite with a fake accent and the wherewithal to find out who has the plate she wants, “PANACHE.” (She got “PANCAKE” instead.) Bill Wolski (in real life her husband) is Harry Baldwin, the card-playing failed artist and fry-cook who has it.
But Kathleen has no idea how to bargain (she can’t remember to increase her bids) and Harry intends to keep the plate for a very personal reason: because his late wife said he had “panache.” She keeps coming back, though, and slowly learns about Harry’s life, his dead ex-wife, and in the process she reveals that her marriage is coming apart as well.

Actress Kristin Towers-Rowles in Panache

Kristin Towers-Rowles plays that wife. Harry met her when he was fixing her up with Irwin Alcott ( the very nerdy Frank Weidner) who needed someone to have the nerve for him to get him a date. They fell in love but she soon died and he has retreated into a life of gambling, sleeping and eating to escape. His best friend is Jumbo Dombroski (Cody Lyman,) who lives to gamble and will even play 22 (yes, 22) with Kathleen because it is a gambling game, even is the number is wrong.

Sure, you know how the play turns out, but until the last few minutes playwright Don Gordon has you wondering if he is going to let his characters get together after all. Towers-Rowles is the perfect image of a love turned to tragedy and Alcott has more than just nerdiness going for him: he also inhabits Harry’s dreams. Lyman is a wonder as Jumbo: funny and compassionate and very much of the streets, but with a heart of gold. He should have his own play.

Wolski and Baker-Kreiswirth play very different characters, and until the end you’ll be wondering how they are going to work it all out. Stephanie Coltrin directs with a light hand in the one-room set that has more than one pizza box as a prop. It looks a lot like home. The play is a delight, lifer-affirming, of course, but with plenty of laughs, too.

Tickets are $26, $23 for seniors and students. Performances are Friday, April 27 at 8 p.m., Saturday, April 28 at 8 p.m.., Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. through May 26 plus two performances Sunday, May 13 at 2 and 7 p.m., and another on Thursday, May 24 at 8 p.m.
Venue: Little Fish Theatre
Location: 777 Centre St., San Pedro
Details: (310) 512-6030, www.littlefishtheatre.org

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