David Wate, Hannah Wold, & Jacob Hall in The Return of The Tick. Photo courtesy The Alley Theater.
The Return of The Tick
Written & directed by Sterling Pratt
Review by Keith Waits
Entire contents copyright © 2018 by Keith Waits. All rights reserved
The Alley Theater remounts their original 2015 production to coincide with yet another iteration of the big blue guy on Amazon. I liked that first production well enough, but this second run feels like it works even better, and much of that impression is based in Connor Blankenship’s performance in the title role of the “nigh-invulnerable superhero in a blue tick costume.”
The Tick is the obtuse, monolithic center of the story: a dedicated, pillar of moral rectitude without guile or dimension. He is Superman without Clark Kent, Captain Marvel without Billy Batson, and Mr. Blankenship nails the self-possessed confidence with laser-focus, never allowing the shadow of depth to intrude on the deliberately mannered performance.
Some of the same cast from three years ago reprise their roles, and Andrew Mertz remains a near-perfect Arthur, The Tick’s humble, all-too-human, moth-costumed sidekick. Marc McHone is even better as The Terror, a super-villain inspired as much by Zero Mostel as by any comic book. Shauvon McGill is The Red Herring, and wins the award for most ridiculous costume (in a show like this, that’s saying a lot), while Jacob Hall returns as Sewer Urchin, this time with an even more pronounced, Southern Bon Vivant characterization.
Of the new cast members, David Wate is Batmanuel, and he effectively captures the Hispanic hero with a short man’s chip on his shoulder, while Hannah Wold essays American Made as a bit tougher and no-nonsense than before. Caitlin Clemons is Breadmaster and a charming Sally Sidekick, and Josh Rocchi rounds out the ensemble as Stalin, with Riker Hill providing the voice of Mr. Handy, who is, naturally, a hand puppet.
Sterling Pratt’s take on the material is a well-referenced, straightforward version of the foundational story, there being little point to establishing a satirical perspective on what is already a parody. As a director, he helps his cast play the right beats and, most importantly, the declarative gesture of comic book action. There were a few instances when players appeared awkward in the backgrounds of scenes where they were not the focus, but anytime one of them moves to the forefront, they knew how to execute the text in an uncluttered fashion.
The Return of The Tick
February 8-24, 2018
The Alley Theater
633 West Main Street
Louisville, Kentucky 40202
Keith Waits is a native of Louisville who works at Louisville Visual Art during the days, where he is Managing Editor of their Artebella blog, and host of LVA’s Artebella On The Radio on WXOX-FM 97.1/ ARTxFM.com. 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 Arts-Louisville.com.