A zany comedy “Insane with Power”


Dick Kerekes & Leisla Sansom [email protected]

Orange Park Community Theatre (OPCT) presents the Florida premiere of the zany comedy “Insane with Power” at their playhouse on Moody Road in Orange Park, Florida. The production, which opened on November 6, 2015, will be on stage through November 22. The play was written by Indiana playwright Scott Haan in 2007, and was the first play he ever wrote. Since then, he has authored a dozen plus comedies that have been produced by schools and community theatres throughout the country.

OPCT has a tradition of staging farces; plays with farfetched plots filled with physical comedy. Regular patrons of this theatre love them, and, judging from the roars of laughter from the audience on the Sunday afternoon when we saw the play, they loved this one. Like most farces, this play works best if you check your brains at the door, open your eyes wide, and prepare to laugh.

The play is set in the day room of a psychiatric hospital run by Dr. Gail Eisner, portrayed by veteran actress Harriett Leatham, who has appeared in several venues in this area in roles that have included Eleanor in “Lion in Winter” and Dr. Eve Bolinger in “Sordid Lives.” She has also appeared in a number of musicals. She portrays Dr. Eisner as an assured and dedicated professional. However, the hospital is unlike any you have known. The only guard is ninety years old and blind in one eye. There is no other security, but then none is needed as the inmates have the run of the place.

The action begins when Lois Lancaster, a local newspaper journalist, arrives to gather information for a story about the hospital and its patients. Making her local theatrical debut is Sophia Hutchinson, who was previously active in theatre, television, and radio in Brooklyn, New York. She is obviously a fine and experienced actress and we look forward to seeing her on our local stages in future roles.

The hospital has only four patients, who are interviewed together by Lois as she seeks information about their superpowers during the wild first act. Each of the patients has taken on the persona of a superhero and each has created a distinctive costume.

Jeffrey Rommel, who received rave reviews at OPCT for his appearances in “The Toby Show” and “Murder Among Friends,” is Speed Freak, and is dressed in a costume that somewhat resembles one worn by Superman. He claims he can circle the globe in just a few seconds and runs (or speeds) backward to keep bugs from getting in his teeth.

Florida School of the Arts graduate George Hawkins, in his OPCT debut, is Dim Bulb, who is dressed in a yellow cape and his underwear. Dim Bulb stuck his finger into a light switch when he was much younger, and since then has had the power to turn lights on and off but does not do so often, as he is afraid of the dark. You can’t miss him; he always has his mouth wide open.

Yolanda Olmstead, one of very funny and very silly sisters in “The Toby Show,” appears as Mental, a woman wearing a tutu, who ingested toxic radioactive pop tarts in the past and developed the ability to read the minds of dogs and people.

The final inmate is Kevin Bendis, also know unofficially as Weatherman. He is played by Cameron Skaff, an FSCJ Theatre student who performed in an OPCT summer workshop in “All In One Basket” several years ago. His super talent is the ability to change the weather by dancing, which he vigorously demonstrates several times for the audience.

Like crime fighting superheroes everywhere, these superheroes have a back story, one revealed to the audience during a flashback at the beginning of Act Two. The flashback, as noted in the program, occurs three years prior to the beginning of the play. And while at this point we would normally provide more information about the unfolding of the plot, we’re going to stop here, as telling more would be a spoiler for theatre patrons.

The play had two directors. Bill Kroner did the initial casting and blocking but had to withdraw due to pressing personal and business obligations. Well-known OPCT actor/director Tim DeBorde stepped in and completed the task. The finished product is filled with exhilaratingly exact comic timing.

David Wells designed the day room and his wife Barbara created the colorful costumes. Stage Manager Denise French was assisted by Scarlette Johnson.

The cast generated fine comic sparks and we were impressed with their earnestness and commitment to absurdity and fun. Visit www.opct.info for reservations and additional information.

Note: Of additional interest, next up for OPCT is “A Charlie Brown Christmas” during December 11 – 13, 2015.

About Dick Kerekes & Leisla Sansom

The Dual Critics of EU Jacksonville have been reviewing plays together for the past nine years. Dick Kerekes has been a critic since 1980, starting with The First Coast Entertainer and continuing as the paper morphed into EU Jacksonville. Leisla Sansom wrote reviews from time to time in the early 80s, but was otherwise occupied in the business world. As a writing team, they have attended almost thirty Humana Festivals of New America Plays at Actors Theatre in Louisville, Kentucky, and many of the annual conferences sponsored by the American Theatre Critics Association, which are held in cities throughout the country. They have reviewed plays in Cincinnati, Chicago, Miami, Sarasota, Minneapolis, Orlando, New York, Philadelphia, Sarasota, San Francisco, Shepherdstown, and The Eugene O’Neill Center in Waterford, Massachusetts. They currently review about one hundred plays annually in the North Florida area theaters, which include community, college, university, and professional productions.