Naples Daily News
Tuesday, June 20, 2006
Social commentary and satire can be among the most effective forms of comedy - using the power of humor to make pointed observations palatable.
In "Much Ado about Naples," the newest Rick Compton and Betsy Bennett production at the Norris Community Center Theater, the show's creators set out to lampoon the rampant development in our area amid the maze of tangled bureaucracy.
Jack Raykitinagain (sound it out) wants to leave Naples with "no green space anywhere, no trees -only condominiums." His projects include the creation of luxury housing for the well-to-do on the property bordering Caribbean Gardens - and anywhere else he can fit it, including "very narrow" condos on the landscape medians along Highway 41.
Along the way, he has to win over the Eminents of Domain, the omnipotent, unseen power that capriciously decrees whether residents may continue to own their own homes; he must displace creatures like the poor, hangdog turtle, played by Rick Compton; and he woos and wins the trophy wife who is protesting his Pelican Park project by Botoxing herself into paralysis.
As Raykitinagain, Mark McClellan does a bang-up job of selling the splashy production number "The Goodness of Greed," and he and Compton are utterly hilarious in the Jewish rap song, "Two Gentlemen of Verona Walk," shaking their walking sticks in the air in a fine and funny Yiddish/hip-hop fusion.
The cast members sell the show with all they've got, and their wholehearted commitment is laudable - particularly Erin Laughlin in the stereotyped and superfluous role of the trophy wife, and some well-tuned moments by McClellan.
The longtime collaboration of Compton and Bennett has yielded a number of works with local spins - "How to Succeed in Naples without Really Trying," "The History of Collier County According to Us" - and a loyal regional following that generated a full house Friday night at the Norris Center.