George Robert Bailey, Audra Lopez, Annie Brundage, & Dan Stephens in Flemming (An American Thriller). Photo: Little Colonel

Flemming ( An American Thriller)

By Sam Bobrick       
Directed by Mike Price

A review by Keith Waits

Entire contents are copyright © 2024 by Keith Waits. All rights reserved.

In an upscale Westport, Connecticut living room, Henry Flemming announces to his wife that he has sold his investment business firm to become – a detective! 

That Sam Bobrick opens his play with such a non sequitur is a good clue as to how absurdist Flemming is willing to be. His wife, Karen (Annie Brundage) is hapless and confused about the change in Henry, as are their neighbors, Stan and Suzy Spencer (George Robert Bailey and Audra Lopez) who seem to be perpetually visiting the Flemming home.

Plot synopsis seems irrelevant here. Henry’s early days as a private eye consist mainly of him falling into scenes progressively more beat-up, and bodies begin piling up with little provocation. I will say that Bobrick manages to pull a few neat surprises. Act one intends to spoof the detective genre but Act Two finds an unexpectedly competent gumshoe in Henry and a worthy antagonist in another one of the characters. No spoilers here.

Mike Price stages the thing with expert timing and pratfalls, and his cast finds all the laughs. In fact, on opening night, there were several times when laughter drowned out dialogue. Bailey and Lopez were a delight; they were lucky with the lines but also managed them with daffy skills. I won’t quite go so far as to declare that Bailey steals the show, but the mischievous twinkle in his eye shows that he may be enjoying himself too much as Stan.

Dan Stephens was a stalwart Henry, and although he never quite bumbles, he falls and crashes through his entrances with aplomb, and carries himself with a square-jawed commitment that easily shifts from satire to something that resembles genuine heroism. Annie Brundage does nice work here, but I fear that Bobrick’s script does not give her enough character to shine the way she did in the last Little Colonel production,  Breaking Legs.

I remember noting the uptick for the company in the quality of the design work in that production, and the same holds true here. While not earth-shattering, the rich, deeper colors and more controlled, atmospheric lighting effectively set a noir tone and elicited oohs and ahs from the audience when the curtain opened. Members of the design team included Mike Price, Kevin Bushong, Bill Baker, Jane Burke, and Erica Wardlow.

Flemming (An American Thriller) is more comedy than thrilling, and it has little depth, but it does make fun of genre expectations. It will tickle the fancy of anyone familiar with the rise of detective literature in the mid-20th century, or the glut of detective shows on television in the 1960s and 70s. Henry Flemming  is every ordinary man who imagined chucking their daily routine for the uncertainty of a life knocking about bad guys.

Featuring George Robert Bailey, Annie Brundage, Tracey Dunn, Hannah Dewitt, Peter Howard, Audra Lopez, Nathaniel Roark, & Dan Stephens 

Flemming (An American Thriller)

May 31, June 1, 7, 8, 13 @ 7:30 pm
June 2 & 9  @ 2:00 pm

Little Colonel Playhouse
302 Mt Mercy Drive 
Pewee Valley, KY 40056

Keith Waits is a native of Louisville who works at Louisville Visual Art during the days, including being the host of Artists Talk with LVA on WXOX 97.1 FM /, but spends most of his evenings indulging his taste for theatre, music, and visual arts. His work has appeared in LEO Weekly, Pure Uncut Candy, TheatreLouisville, and Louisville Mojo. He is now Managing Editor for