There are always two sides to a story. If we’re to go with the theory put forth in Johnny Simons’ Nekkid With the Cats: A Wisepecker Conundrum at Hip Pocket Theatre, if there’s a husband and wife each telling their side, then the man would be better off not trying.
This is Simons’ latest play involving the Wisepecker family, first seen in 2007’s A Wisepecker Christmas. In this slight but entertaining 50-minute work, spouses Tom (Gary Payne) and Gayle Wisepecker (Kristi Ramos Toler) each make a case for why the other is wrong.
“She’s crazy. This play is about that,” Tom says early on. Later, when it’s her turn, she explains that we haven’t heard her side yet.
The issue at hand is one a lot of marriages face: One partner never seems to be in the mood for you-know-what. In this case, it’s Tom. Gayle tries everything including making sure he’s aware of her bosoms. The in-bed conversations are the funniest bits of dialogue in Nekkid With the Cats.
But it’s apparently not his libido that’s the problem, because when he takes Gayle, her sister Lillian Wrathpath (Salone Sasser) and their tart-tongued mother Mattie Raye Wrathpath (Louann Gary) to Zumba class, Tom is quickly stimulated by a clowder of dancing cats (Frieda Austin, Julie Ballew, Jozy Camp, Christina Cranshaw, Shae Lynn Goldston, Mallory Harwell, Kayly Topper and Elysia Worcester) in flirty burlesque mode, led by the sexy vixen Footsie Evers (Carmen Scott).
Perhaps the solution is to call in relationship therapist Dr. Wolfgang Weir (Michael Joe Goggans), who is adored by all the women characters. It’s not clear if the dilemma will ever be solved, but then again, how many marital issues are effectively solved when shenanigans get in the way of serious discussion? Sometimes pushing the reset button is enough.
Much of the action plays out through a series of dance routines — a device Simons loves employing. If it’s not dance, it’s lip-synch or pantomime, or all of the above. Yeah, it’s goofy, but there’s no denying that it’s appealingly fun.
This is that one production slot in Hip Pocket’s season that’s not an adaptation of a work of literature or film, and it’s not one of Lake Simons’ physical theater creations. It’s the time for Johnny Simons to be nostalgic with his characters and music selections (this one is filled with jazz tunes).
The acting is meant to be overdone and stylized, which the performers live up to. Part of the comedy comes through crude jokes or sight gags, and the wacky physicality that comes with Goggans’ tall and splinter-skinny frame never hurts.
It’s best not to overthink it. Just sit back with a beer or glass of wine and prepare to chuckle and smile.