"WOMEN IN JEOPARDY," through Feb. 25, Pioneer Theatre Company, 300 S. 1400 East (801-581-6961 or pioneertheatre.org); running time 2 hours, 15 minutes with one intermission
"Women in Jeopardy" is clever, outrageous and funny.
Written by Wendy MacLeod, an author familiar with the Salt Lake area, the show visits the Utah culture and the scenery and generally entertains with a fresh, saucy look at life for divorced women in Utah.
But it's also crude as it is laced with sexual innuendo, profanity and plenty of bold humor based on both male and female genitalia.
As Mary (played by Anne Tolpegin) and Jo (played by Rosalyn Coleman) try to figure out if their friend Liz (played by Elizabeth Meadows Rouse) is in danger from her new lover, Jackson Scull (played by Joe Gately), they get pulled into trying to save Liz's daughter from him.
Amanda (played by Betsy Helmer), the daughter, is perfectly fine with going camping with Jackson, even though his dental assistant was recently abducted from the parking lot near his office. Even after the assistant turns up murdered with an antique dental tool, Amanda and Liz aren't worried.
However, Mary and Jo are frantic. They end up camping uninvited in Caramel Canyon with Liz, Dr. Scull, Amanda and a teenage snowboarder named Trenner (played by CJ Strong).
The plot is thickened when Trenner becomes convinced Mary is attracted to him despite their age difference and despite the fact that he's already involved with Amanda.
The dialogue in this show is crisp and fun but often naughty and the action is lively. The blocking and choreography add interest and there's never a boring moment.
It's obvious, too, that all of the cast members are Equity actors as their performances are spot-on and everyone in the show is entertaining. Among the highlights are the performances by Strong and Gately as Strong plays his role with confidence and he delivers his lines with great comic timing. Gately is hilarious and very versatile in the double role of Dr. Scull and Sgt. Kirk Sponsullar.
The set is wonderfully dressed as Mary's apartment, a ski rental shop, then as a campsite.
Some problems come from the playwright trying a little too hard to push Mormon culture into the script. The suggestion that perhaps the victim was "snatched by Mormon elders" doesn't fit nor does the comment that "everything in Salt Lake City is a Mormon thing."
But other asides such as "Do you have a firearm in the house? Of course not, we're Democrats!" add to the fun.
There is plenty to enjoy here with this story and the characters if audiences can get past the shockers, some of which seem to be added in just to make the audience gasp, including the gratuitous drop of the F-word as the final line of the show.
Content advisory: Crude and profane language, including the F-word, and numerous jokes based on male and female genitalia puts this script at a PG-13 or R-rated level. There are instances of sexual body grabbing and pretend sex, including a scene where it is implied by the swelling up and down of a tent that a couple is having sex. The costuming is often also revealing of women's cleavage.
Sharon Haddock is a professional writer with more than 40 years' experience, 17 at the Deseret News. Her personal blog is at sharonhaddock.blogspot.com.
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