By Lynn Geyer
“Anchor Baby,” an enjoyable new play by local playwright D. Richard Tucker, opened May 4 at Dukesbay Productions.
This new comedy is directed by Randy Clark, who along with his wife Aya, are the co-founders of Dukesbay Productions, a new community theatre which holds sway in the basement of the First Congregational Church of Tacoma.
“Anchor Baby” is a delightful comedy of Adult Kids vs. Parents with a few lessons on equality of different cultures. Sometimes, the “lessons” the play touts get a bit simplified and dull, but for the most part, the show is uproariously funny, well directed and acted.
The action takes place on the tropical island of Mehlot – somewhere in the south Pacific. Bobby Anchor, (as coincidence will have it) is an anchor man for the evening news on “The only all English news cast on the island.” Bobby and his wife Alita are expecting their first child when they are hit with the bombshell that his mother and father, along with his belligerent teenaged sister, are on their way to spend some time with them – all the way from the heart of blue collar America.
What ensues turns out to be a rollicking comedy of banter and wit and even half-wit! The ending plays a real twist on a remark Ben Franklin made about what to do with guests who stay more than four days: the same you do with fish, throw them out!
Dukesbay has taken over an unused room in the basement of the church and converted it to a perfect showroom for the intimate theatre with seating for an audience of about 50.
Upon entering the theatre, the audience must walk around the excellent set designed by Scott Campbell which throws them right into a bungalow on a tropical isle with rattan furniture, bamboo parquet floors and all.
Clark has done a good job with the direction of this new play. He has grasped the playwright’s meaning and translated it expertly to the stage.
The cast is composed of 21 characters. How do they fit all those people in such a limited space? Easy, 14 of the parts are played by two people!
Aya Hashiguchi (Clark) handles at least eight roles. She is a letter carrier, a teenaged companion of the rebellious sister, the island rich lady, a simpleton factory worker and our heroine’s mother among others. Hashiguchi handles each role differently with a minor wardrobe adjustment, a slight difference in stance or walking and with individual speech patterns. She does an outstanding job at keeping the characters distinctive.
Bryan Yambe is her male counterpart; he holds fort on six roles including an island plumber, a druggie dupe and Alita’s father. Yambe’s mannerisms alter with each character so it’s easy to determine in which persona he is when making his entrances.
Curt Beech is Jack Anchor, Bobby’s father. Beech plays the unexpected guest with a larcenous heart who suffers from sleep apnea realistically; a simple boob who stumbles over his principles as easily as he stumbles over his own feet.
Chevi Chung is Alita Anchor. This lovely young woman brings complete reality to her character. She is understanding, pregnant, loving, patient, pregnant, bewildered, furious and pregnant!
James Gilletti is Bobby Anchor, newsman, a loving husband, soon to be father and a son with an urge to become an orphan. Gilletti does a wonderful job with the role of a man who of faces his dilemmas straight on and manages to run away from them all.
Laurie Sifford is Phyllis Anchor, Bobby’s mother. Sifford is completely believable in the part of a motherly con woman who jumps from one illicit money-making proposition to another with the drop of an idea. Her deadpan reactions and matter of fact responses to the predicaments she creates are hilarious.
Elizabeth Gibson is Charlene, the juvenile delinquent daughter, who quietly and surreptitiously in plain view of all, causes many of the problems surrounding our not too happy family. Gibson is terrific in the part. She exudes the true essence of the modern-day teenaged trouble maker who thinks of nothing but her own happiness.
“Anchor Baby” continues through May 19 at the basement theatre of the First Congregational Church at 918 Division Ave. in Tacoma. It runs Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. There is plenty of parking at the rear of the building on I Street, where the subterranean entrance to the theatre is located.
For reservations or more information call (253) 267-0869 or E-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Anchor Baby” is a good production in a pleasant location. Hopefully, Dukesbay will be able to cement relations with the church to continue using the space, thereby fulfilling the company’s mission to present the works of local playwrights who encompass the diversities of the Pacific Northwest in their work and allow the multi-faceted performers of our area a showcase for their talent.
All in all, “Anchor Baby” is a very pleasant surprise – a nugget of a gem delivered so enjoyably. Don’t miss this opportunity to support a new theatre.
As they say in Mehlot, “Mobetan,” which means “Good-bye” and Many Blessings.