Reckless, New Leaf Theatre, at the Lincoln Park Cultural Center. Director Brandon Ray does a marvelous job with Craig Lucas’s fast-paced, morbid comedy. Bubbly chatterbox housewife Rachel plunges into the snow wearing her bathrobe and slippers on Christmas Eve. She leaves home in a hurry when she learns her husband has hired a hit man to bump her off. An overcompensating altruist with the unlikely name of Lloyd Bophtelophti (Bill Hyland) brings Rachel home to live with him and his paraplegic wife, Pooty (Marsha Harman).
Like the films After Hours and Something Wild, this is an existential road trip (made into a film in 1995). As significant events continue to occur on Christmas Eve, Rachel moves from Springfield to Springfield–there’s one in every state–and shrink to shrink. Yet Reckless is also upbeat: anything can happen in this unfathomable universe. Like a contemporary Candide, Rachel leaves mayhem–and a pile of dead bodies–in her ditzy wake yet rationalizes that everything must happen for a reason. The play takes a dive only when, for a bleak period in the second act, hope is lost.
Erin Shelton is a loopy powerhouse in the leading role, while John Prakapas gets the smarminess award for his portrayals of several characters. Sound designer Nick Keenan has made excellent choices in music.