Theatre review: Southern banter brings laughs in ‘Duck Hunter’ comedy

A title such as “Duck Hunter Shoots Angel” doesn’t seem to need much in the way of an explanation, but you might be surprised to find this play isn’t just about an ill-fated hunting experience.

The Spokane Civic Theatre play opens on a half-man half-alligator reading from a book (did I mention that this play might have some unexpected aspects?). Then enters the protagonist. Sandy is a depressed journalist played by Spokane Civic Theatre veteran Michael Hynes. Sipping coffee from a coffee cup he begins to have a conversation with what is assumed to be the audience, until a voice answers.

The booming voice coming from loud speakers carries on a conversation with Sandy throughout the production at very inconvenient times, asking him questions that he refuses to answer. Sandy attempts to explain to the voice why his writing is so terrible. Then enters his out-of-touch and overpaid boss Lester, played by David Olson, of the national enquirer-esque publication that he writes for.

Lester informs Sandy that a story about a duck hunter who accidentally shot an angel needs to be covered, and Sandy is the man to do it. Because of a troublesome past with the south that is alluded to Sandy refuses, but unfortunately does not have a choice in the matter. Sandy takes the paper’s photographer Lenny, played by Jarvis Lunalo, down on the assignment and hilarity ensues.

As the title does allude to the event, the play focuses on two stereotypical Alabama duck-hunting brothers who have come to the conclusion that they have shot down an angel. The casting could not have been more perfect for the role of these two southern brothers. The accents, costumes and attitudes were all spot on and for a moment I had forgotten I was watching a play and thought I was watching a Jerry Springer episode.

The two brothers, Duane and Duwell, played by Mark Pleasant and Doug Dawson, steal the show with their southern banter and slapstick comedy. Numerous times the actors had to wait for the roar of audience laughter to subside before they could go on. The production is most certainly a comedy, but deeper messages of belief and redemption are present, as well.

The play was written by author Mitch Albom. Many recognize his works such as “Tuesdays with Morrie” or “The Five People You Meet in Heaven.” Albom’s work is known to be thought-provoking as well as emotional, but this piece is not what you might expect from Albom. Like his previous works you will be wiping tears off your face, but only because you’re laughing so hard.

Lunalo, who is also a Whitworth graduate, said the production has been one of his favorites.

“This was a really fun and tiresome production,” Lunalo said. “This show has been one of the best productions I have ever been in; the cast is really superb.”

Lunalo is not stretching the truth. The cast is relatively small with only nine members, but every single one of them is incredibly talented, making up a stellar cast.

Director Kathie Doyle-Lipe is no stranger to the Spokane Civic, but this was her first go at directing. It goes without saying that she did a phenomenal job, and the cast and crew also appreciated having her on board.

“Kathie is a comedian,” Lunalo said. “She had a way of making the rehearsals so much fun.”

A fantastic cast, wonderful directing and a fabulous stage production make this play one not to be missed.

The production “Duck Hunter Shoots Angel” is on stage now until April 22 at the Spokane Civic Theatre. Student prices are available.

  Story by Jacqueline Goldman Staff Writer

Photo courtesy of Spokane Civic Theatre

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