When Marisa Smith wrote two-act comedy, “Saving Kitty,” she must have designed the main role of loquacious, speak-before-you-think, politically-socially incorrect Kate Hartley for star Jennifer Coolidge. The popular, comic movie and TV sitcom star, (think “American Pie,” “Best in Show,” and “2 Broke Girls”) is a whirlwind of hilarious no-nos. Her outstanding co-stars are her satellites.
As Coolidge makes her entrance on the small stage at Central Square Theater, she is enthusiastically applauded then, and after several outlandish scenes. as she huffs and puffs around, talking incessantly, within reach of theatergoers, In fact, she and co-stars Alexander Cook, portraying her husband, Huntley Hartley, Lydia Barnett-Mulligan as her daughter, Kitty, and Lewis D. Wheeler portraying Kitty’s newest fiance, Paul Cook, received a prolonged standing ovation and two curtain calls the day I attended. And I was among them.
We all know or are related to a Kate Hartley, who thinks before she speaks, doesn’t listen, is opinionated,and blusters about. At times, we shrug off her antics, laugh them off, while other times, we try to escape - like Huntley, who gets “urgent” calls from work, requiring his immediate attention. You know what I mean.
But does Kate?
The couple’s 27-year-old news producer, daughter, Kitty, is coming home, to their handsome Manhattan apartment (kudos, designer Steven Royal), bringing in tow her latest fiance, Paul Cook, for dinner. Kate mutters, sputters,and speculates about what Paul may be. Is he black? After all, Kitty brought home three other fiances, then dropped them later.
In Kate’s eyes, Paul’s much worse. He looks good. He sounds good. He’s polite. Doesn’t drink, especially. But to Kate, he’s much worse - he’s a “born-again,” evangelical Christian educator, who’s in New York City to start a new K-12 school. And Kate just knows what THAT type is like! And isn’t it true, she asks Paul, that religious people crave more sex? It’s in the Bible, you know, she adds.
Coolidge is deliciously offensive, calculatingly clever, while daughter Kitty and Huntley are tolerant of her, almost laugh her off, until they no longer can, shouting her down.
And what about Paul? Wheeler is an exercise in politeness, restraint, who’s determined to not have sex with Kitty until their wedding night - if there’s a wedding, after Kate’s continuous onslaught and crusade, day and night, to get rid of him.
The only drawback to this play is we need get to know Paul more, what his hang-ups are, and Kate’s hang-up on religion, especially after she reveals to Paul she was a former Sunday School teacher, evoking theatergoers’ collective gasp.
Is Kate right about her sunshiny, happy daughter, who falls in love too fast. brings home “inappropriate” fiances too fast, and willingly tosses her fabulous career to the wind, for love, or so she says. No matter.
Smith’s lines are sharp, clever, and this cast’s spot-on, tightly knit performance, aptly guided by The Nora Theater’s versatile director-artistic director, Lee Mikeska Gardner, is a tribute to Smith,
Need a day off from today’s turmoil? How about a damn good, devil-may-care belly laugh? Do yourself a favor. See “Saving Kitty”. Hurry to get tickets, though. The show, ends Aug.2, and word-of-mouth and critics’ review have been so glowing, tickets are going fast. Trust me - you don’t want to miss this one!
BOXINFO: The Nora Theatre Company presents Marisa Smith’s two-act, two-hour play, “Saving Kitty,” starring film-TV star, Jennifer Coolidge, (“American Pie,” “Best in Show,” and TV’s “2 Broke Girls”), through Aug. 2, at Central Square Theater, 450 Mass. Ave., Cambridge. Performances: Wednesday, Thursday, at 7:30 p.m.; Friday, 8 p.m.; Saturday, 3,8 p.m.; Sunday, 2 p.m. Tickets start at $20. Visit Central SquareTheater.org or call the Box Office at 617-576-9278.