Horror movie satire plays like a Christopher Durang retread with lower stakes and inferior jokes.
Taking a break from his oeuvre of ambitious tuners including the forthcoming “Giant” and (at the Taper) “Los Otros,” Michael John LaChiusa has handed over a slight new straight play to the Blank Theater, which did such a fine job with his “Little Fish” and “See What I Wanna See.” Horror movie satire “Sukie and Sue: Their Story” plays like a Christopher Durang retread with lower stakes and inferior jokes, but the Blank comes through once again with as snappy and entertaining a production as the material could possibly permit.
Everybody thinks our eponymous roommate heroines, hospital nurses on the near side of 30, are darned good people. We alone are privy to the way Sue (Rae Foster) brutally tears the gauze off her burn-unit patients when no one’s looking, or the dependency of Sukie (Lindsey Broad) on her stoner-dealer main squeeze (Lenny Jacobson) and his omnipresent bong. Sue’s herb consumption is on the rise too, what with another dealer (Nick Ballard) dangling primo Hawaiian in hopes of an invitation to stay.
Correction: Someone else is hip to all this bad behavior, a dead child’s ghost who’s inhabiting Sue’s Raggedy Ann doll bent on some agenda, which even a harried medium (Mackenzie Phillips) and local exorcist (Eddie Driscoll) are powerless to fathom.
It’d be nice to report the great beyond was sending some high wit the girls’ way a la “Blithe Spirit,” or even murderous mischief in the manner of Chucky in “Child’s Play.” But after surprising and chilling us with a simple crossed-leg move only we can see, the doll just sort of hangs around thereafter.
It bleeds from the eyes, pops up here and there and soars overhead on a cheesy zip line at one point. But otherwise there’s no escalation in the comical business and no buildup of thrills. Despite flurries of activity, nothing really happens to Sukie or Sue until the plot wraps itself up in perfunctory fashion.
Helmer Kirsten Sanderson’s scene changes are clunky, but she interjects plenty of brio by insisting her cast play against stereotype. Phillips’ psychic is no loony but a down-to-earth working woman; Driscoll’s priest no sleazy pedophile but a gruff, nose-to-the-grindstone cleric of the Boston variety. They’re both hilarious, as are Jacobson and Ballard investing their Cheech and Chong act with fresh vitality.
Broad and Foster get some nice byplay going as well, even though their roles don’t make a lick of sense. “Sukie and Sue” may not amount to much, but it’s always cheerful and never dull, and if you wander in you won’t be sorry.
Sukie and Sue: Their Story
Sukie - Lindsey Broad
Sal - Lenny Jacobson
Barbara - Mackenzie Phillips
Kelly - Nick Ballard
Father Canary - Eddie Driscoll
With: Mary-Beth Manning, Elena Campbell-Martinez