The Tick

Written by directed by Sterling Pratt

Review by Keith Waits

Entire contents copyright © 2015 by Keith Waits. All rights reserved

By now I’ve seen so many of these pop culture parodies from The Alley Theater that I should be jaded. Some have been imported, while others, such as this affectionate take on The Tick, are originals.

Sterling Pratt penned the script, and he has done his homework well enough that one could easily imagine this as the first full-length Tick movie, and part of the trick of it is that The Tick is itself a parody of super hero storytelling, so spoofing it is rife with opportunity to fall into a self-referential black hole of pretention. Yet Pratt doesn’t make fun of The Tick so much as recreate it with respect plus a nod and a wink. It’s a bit of a high wire act, and as a writer, Pratt pulls it off.

As a director he mostly pulls it off as well, albeit with some sluggish cues and a few indifferently played moments on opening night. Andrew Mertz was terrific as Arthur, the Tick’s sidekick, and makes the most of the fact that this is much more Arthur’s story than the titular figure. The big guy in blue has no history or secret identity and is therefore somewhat one-dimensional, while Mertz is given the opportunity to build a character with an arc that allows at least a modicum of emotional complexity. Scott Davis may lack the absurdly over-developed physique of the original Tick, but he nicely captures the self-absorbed swagger and righteous attitude, particularly in his vocal delivery.

As archvillian The Terror, Marc McHone utilizes borscht-belt energy to create an indelible but ultimately ineffectual bad guy (appropriately), while Shauvin McGill is a gangly, wanna-be evildoer as The Red Herring. Leila Toba makes for an American Maid with just the right mix of sexy and absurd, Rachel Allen finds good moments in her several small roles, best as Dot and Sally Sidekick, and Daniel Smith seems to be having fun as Batmanuel. Jacob Hall and Tom Dunbar also did utility work, with the former best as Sewer Urchin and the latter doing well enough by Joseph Stalin. All the various dialects are burlesque-bad, which seems entirely right for this show.

Set design was pretty much leftover from the previous Alley production of It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, Its Superman! but the deliberately chintzy cardboard flats were just as appropriate here, and costumes made virtue out of their haphazardness while remaining apt to the material.

For the most part, The Tick was more organized and coherent than many other Alley satires, although the aforementioned sluggish cues and some technical mishaps, which is my nice way of mentioning that a cast member knocked a major prop into pieces, remind us of that we are in the home of rough-hewn theatre. But it also must be said that the ensemble remained unflappable after this ungraceful moment, milking it for some of the biggest laughs of the evening and illustrating how the Alley aesthetic abandons preciousness or pomposity in favor of a sometimes-reckless spontaneity.

The Tick

August 6 – 22 @ 7:30pm

Tickets $15 ($12 for students / seniors / military)

The Alley Theater
615 West Main Street
Louisville, Kentucky 40202


Keith[box_light]Keith Waits is a native of Louisville who works at Louisville Visual Art during the days, including being one of the hosts of PUBLIC on ARTxFM, but spends most of his evenings indulging his taste for theatre, music and visual arts. His work has appeared in Pure Uncut Candy, TheatreLouisville, and Louisville Mojo. He is now Managing Editor for[/box_light]