Like the finally honed comic classic of Abbott and Costello’s “Who’s On First,” the opening scene of Padraic Duffy’s new comedy, Past Time, now premiering at Sacred Fools Theatre Company, the niggling, bickering repartee of Leon Russom and French Stewart as long time friends James and Lou, is a giggling, guffaw-inducing splash of funny. The scene is simply extraordinary.
James is helping Lou paint small unicorn statuettes and must endure constant corrections in technique. He must “feather” the paint on, not “stab” it. He must call the colors by their “correct names.” It is not pink, but “papaya whip.” Lou is clearly in obsessive-mania-land. The friends are rushing to complete the project so that Lou can open a unicorn kiosk at the mall. Why this fetish with unicorns? That is a revelation for a later moment in the show.
Past Time is structured in a series of scenes, each scene given a brief description projected on the false proscenium, a curling rainbow sweeping across and above the stage. James’ wife, Delilah (excellent Ruth Silveira), is miffed at the loss of her den to the unicorn project to the point where the couple is sleeping separately. Their marriage has hit the early old-age doldrums. Their grandson, Chris (tall, amiable Josh Weber), abandoned by his parents at the age of nine, has been living with them ever since and now at the age of twenty-something shows no sign of leaving. He is an awkward young man, inept at relationships and a little goofy. He has fallen for a shy, self-effacing girl, Meredith (Julia Griswold), who wonders why she keeps accepting dates with a guy whose behavior she finds ridiculous.
The situations of both the older and younger couples become unknotted when Chris sends his grandpa on a date with Meredith with the ridiculous instruction to “be” him. It’s silly, but Grandpa James does it and heartfelt, liberating comedy ensues.
Directed by Jeremy Aldridge, Past Time is a fine choice to inaugurate Sacred Fools’ new home at The Lillian in Hollywood. The company has a hit on its hands. The place was sold-out-packed on a Friday night after opening weekend. With a fine company performing at the top of their game in a well-known, newly renovated space that is attractive and commodious, there is no doubt the company will continue to thrive.
Sacred Fools’ Past Time runs through March 26 at The Lillian Theatre, 1076 Lillian Way in Hollywood.