When a suburban wife suddenly disappears after a visit from a smugly elusive local pastor, her overwrought and overweight husband seeks, to little avail, the assistance of some loony law-enforcement agents and a trio of cops not much brighter (and much less funny) than the Three Stooges. The sun never shines in Bob Clyman’s satirical comicbook farce “Where the Sun Never Sets,” having its world premiere in an uneven production at Playwrights Theater.
Bob is an uncommonly genial husband and father, portrayed with an appropriate abundance of energy and pluck by Jim Ligon. His wife, Annie (Andrea Bianchi), is a self-confessed disaster on a course to becoming the kind of person she truly hates. She’s seduced by Calibar (Daniel Robert Sullivan), a dubious Unitarian preacher with a dark hidden agenda. Sullivan is coolly menacing in a glib way, as a deranged psychopath preparing to govern the entire world.
Make no mistake, Clyman writes with a lethally pointed quill, stabbing every conceivable target: the establishment, the sanctity of marriage, the state of the world today, even the confusion of locating particular carpet dealers in Garden State malls. Unfortunately, his imagination runs wild, and the play loses considerable steam. The repetitious second act slams into a brick wall; what had been fun becomes static and strained.
Brendan Patrick Burke, Joel Leffert and Michael Irvin Pollard play coppers Halihan, Monahan and Hoolihan, respectively, with an unbridled sense of buffoonery. In the underwritten role of the harried wife, Bianchi works her troubled eyebrows to the bone.
Jane Keitel, who takes on a variety of supporting roles, is especially amusing as a ditsy angel who becomes manifest to deliver a message from the Great Beyond.
John Pietrowski’s evenhanded staging keeps the action moving briskly. Richard Turick’s functional set, which plants a chair here and a table there upon three barren platforms, is reflective of the company’s limited budget.