'Smell of the Kill' offers taste of dark comedy


From left, Laura Rohner as Nikki, Nell Page as Debra and Cady West Garey as Molly scheme against their husbands in the Hippodrome play "The Smell of the Kill."

AARON DAYE / The Gainesville Sun
Published: Thursday, January 18, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 18, 2007 at 12:54 a.m.

Facts

"The Smell of the Kill"

  • WHERE: The Hippodrome State Theatre
  • WHEN: 8 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays, 5 and 8:30 p.m. Saturdays, 2 and 7:30 p.m. Sundays, through Feb. 4.
  • TICKETS: $10-$30 (375-4477)

One of the three characters that command the stage in the new show at the Hippodrome complains that although people make mistakes, they can't be killed because of them. Well, that's not necessarily true in the dark domestic comedy, "The Smell of the Kill," which opened last Friday.
A trio of harried heroines uproariously details a litany of woes in the initial stages of the play. These devilish doyennes of marital disharmony certainly have issues with their husbands but when an opportunity eventually presents itself to "ice" the relationships, they must find a way to come to grips with the consequences of their decision.
The husbands are heard but not seen and certainly do fulfill our expectations by being rude, arrogant, and self-absorbed. Their more serious peccadilloes are revealed in the crisp dialogue between their wives and there are some serious issues here, although none that aren't dealt with every week by Dr. Phil. It's too bad these put-upon-purls couldn't find a way to entice the TV doc's producers into having them on his show instead of having to resort to homicide.
But we're not talking reality here. In real life, marital infidelity, embezzlement and frustration are not that funny. The ability to turn these dour topics into humor lies in the fortunate combination of good writing by playwright Michele Lowe, tight direction by Robert H. Satterlee, and superb acting by Cady West Garey, Nell Page and Laura Rohner.
The three characters' personalities complement each other nicely. All three have something to hide but in the course of the evening they manage to strip off some of their clothing and uncover other secrets to each other.
With excellent comedic timing, West Garey (Molly) is the Gracie Allen of the group. She also communicates Molly's vulnerability nicely. Molly's justification for doing away with her hubby is not the greatest, but as West Garey realizes Molly, it is easy to see how she could be easily led to cooperate in the nefarious plot.
Page (Debra) is a very tightly strung woman who lives in an advanced state of denial though most of the play. She is the fly that almost spoils the ointment of the scheme and in so doing presents some of the best physical comedy of the evening.
Rohner (Nicky) provides a very strong performance as the linchpin of the plot. She is in control from the moment the women enter the kitchen which comprises the set for this play until the final blackout. Rohner is able to carry this burden brilliantly in her intensity.
The set, designed by J. Jeffery Guice, is a contemporary kitchen compatible with the concept of the characters' social status. The design is clever in that it allows them freedom of movement around and through a central island area.
"The Smell of the Kill" had a brief run on Broadway in 2002. Since then it has been seen regionally. Photos of some of these productions testify to the classiness of the Hipp's product. The play does not have a lot of substance, but is one of those in which you can sit back, relax, and enjoy an evening of entertainment.
With no intermission, few light cues, and no set changes the burden of carrying the evening rests with the actors who are masters at controlling the action, and in creating and holding our interest.

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