PowPAC’s ‘Skin Deep’ is pretty funny

Review by José A. López

A description of plot and character don’t do much justice to “Skin Deep,” the newest play offered by PowPAC, Poway’s Community Theatre, much in the way that, say, a person’s appearance doesn’t tell you much of who the person really is.

Shirley Coggon stars as Maureen Mulligan in PowPAC’s “Skin Deep,” playing until March 27. (Photo Provided by Tony Eisenhower)

Thus, what may sound on the surface as a clichéd setup (an overweight, problem eater who keeps suitors at bay with an overdeveloped sense of humor is set up on a blind date by her pretty and svelte sister addicted to plastic surgery) makes for a funny and often touching portrayal of the woes of middle-aged dating.

Playing at the Poway stage, 13250 Poway Road, through March 27, the play by Jon Lonoff is a fast-paced character study, a smartly written comedy that, despite a standard plot, creates real and believable characters.

While many comedies fall into a trap of creating their characters around their jokes, this play appears to focus on the characters first, which gives the comedy an organic feel.

And while some of the jokes do feel a bit forced, the four-person cast, under the direction of PowPAC artistic director Sherrie Colbourn, creates a piece that has many more comedic hits than misses.

At the center is Maureen Mulligan, a plus-sized dental assistant and devout Catholic who is never at a loss for words, especially when she’s putting herself down and keeping suitors at bay.

She doesn’t think anyone will find her a worthy mate, so she preemptively sabotages her relationships and then spends her time eating pizzas by the pie and having Chinese food delivered to her apartment in the Forest Hills neighborhood of Queens, N.Y.

In her PowPAC debut, Shirley Coggon displays the right mix of bravado and vulnerability for the character.

Colbourn has said she chose Coggon for the role for her background in stand-up comedy and for the fact that she can blush on cue, the latter a skill that comes up often as Maureen goes on a blind date with Joe Spinolli, a well-intentioned lug who’s a bit blunt, but also a “good listener.”

Playing the part of Spinolli is Joe Solazzo, in a winning performance that is natural and likeable. Both Solazzo and Coggon do a good job of highlighting their characters’ first-date awkwardness, which makes their characters endearing. You want to root for them to get together, even when you know that it’s exactly where they’re heading.

The closest thing the play has for a villain is Sheila, Maureen’s meddling sister, but even then, her insults are not malicious in nature. In fact, none of the characters are what they appear on the surface.

Cheryl Warner gets good mileage out of her character’s vanity, and delivers some of the play’s strongest laughs when she undergoes a disastrous cosmetic surgery procedure shortly before a wedding rehearsal dinner.

Warner’s real-life husband, Sam Warner, plays her husband in the play, Squire Whiting, the suave attorney who, despite his constant flirting and his wandering — or better said, unwandering — eyes is a devoted husband. He also has a few of the plays best lines, ones that were literal show-stoppers during opening night last week.

Performances are Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and a Sunday matinee at 2 p.m. Tickets are $15 for general admission, $13 for students, seniors and active military.

For reservations, call the PowPAC box office at 858-679-8085 or order tickets by e-mailing boxoffice@powpac.org with a name and the number of tickets wanted. For more information, visit PowPAC’s website at www.powpac.org.

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Posted by on Mar 9 2011. Filed under Entertainment, Featured Story, Theatre. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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