If you think you’ve had some bad Christmas experiences, consider Rachel, the woman at the center of Craig Lucas’ play Reckless, now onstage in an FSU/Asolo Conservatory production. As the curtain rises, we see her in bed on Christmas Eve, happily burbling away about how much she loves Christmas and snow and her two young kids, etc., all while hubby Tom (Creg Sclavi), clearly uncomfortable beside her, stays silent. That is until he blurts out the kicker that he’s hired a hit man to kill her, and she needs to get out of the house, now, or find herself dead for this year’s Christmas present.
Naturally, this is hard for Rachel (Amber McNew) to take in, but the sound of window glass breaking downstairs convinces her to hightail it out the bedroom window in her nightgown and slippers. She’s suddenly on the run, with no money, no ID and no friends or family to count on. That’s the down side. The up side, she realizes, is that in her radically changed situation, “I could be anybody.” Time to find a new life.
She first encounters the helpful Lloyd (Brian Ritchie), who gives her a ride to the home he shares with Pooty (Carla Corvo), his deaf/disabled girlfriend. They’re so welcoming, they offer to let Rachel (or Mary Ellen, or whatever names she tries on throughout the course of the play) stay with them. She lands a job at a nonprofit working side by side with the dour Trish (Jillian Cicalese), a woman who also has secrets, and launches herself into the first of many visits to a changing line-up of therapists (all played by Michael Judah) to try to fix herself.
Along the way, she learns she’s not the only one telling lies, leaving her to ponder if anyone ever really knows anyone else. Well, yeah, probably not.
She also takes part in a tacky game show, becomes a target on a TV talk show, and hits the road with Lloyd from one town named Springfield to another and another after yet one more life-changing dramatic incident takes place. But will she ever find the peace and certainty that elude her?
In this fast-paced comedy, directed by Brendan Ragan, there are laughs and surprises as the absurdities of the ever-changing predicaments Rachel confronts escalate. McNew is fun to follow as she progresses from a perpetually upbeat Chatty Cathy to a more nuanced, stricken and serious individual. Ritchie and Corvo make good accomplices in the twists and turns of the action, too.
Parts of Reckless feel dated (it’s originally from the 1980s, although Lucas has worked here to update it), and I don’t mean just the clearly old-school computer on Trish’s desk. Both the game show and the talk show are certainly two overdone staples of satire by now, although perhaps their mockery felt fresher in the original. And I’m not sure I completely buy the play’s ending, although it does pull together some pieces of the puzzle regarding Rachel’s life.
But at a brisk, intermission-less 90 minutes, Reckless does offer some offbeat entertainment and even some insight into human nature. The production continues through March 10 in the Cook Theatre; for tickets call 351-8000 or go to asolorep.org.