Salt Lake Community College’s Black Box Theatre is presenting “Inspecting Carol” on the South City Campus.
Styled as a cross between “Noises Off” and “A Christmas Carol,” the play provides plenty of laughs and a few poignant moments that are designed to make audience members step beyond the slapstick antics and intentional overacting. Audiences will never look at a lemon the same way again.
The play is set in a theater that is rehearsing its annual presentation of “A Christmas Carol.” All of the regulars from previous years are back except for Sherman, who hanged himself the previous Christmas after a bad review.
Zorah Bloch (played by Liz Hales) brings in Walter E. Parsons, who is black (played by Terence Johnson), to replace her departed husband and to show the National Endowments for the Arts (NEA) that the theater is multicultural.
The company is in bad financial straits and learns that the NEA is sending an inspector who might eliminate the last vestige of funding that the theater has. Wade Wellacre (played by Andrew W. Johnson) is mistaken for the inspector and is given a part in the play, as well as power to do whatever he feels is right.
While the cast in general appeared to be fairly well-rehearsed, there were a few standout performances. Wellacre’s acting was terrible, which is exactly what his part called for and Johnson played it to the hilt for laughs. His vocal quality was amazing, as he was given the opportunity to not only be nerdy, but also show a glimpse of his manly side.
Liz Hales did a great job as the angry and passionate Lithuanian Zorah Bloch, who is in charge of the theater. She was able to be serious and sexy, even in a Christmas sweater. Her laughs were generated from a running joke about her heritage and a scene where she vamps it up in an attempt to seduce the unwilling Wellacre.
Jon Hendry played the part of Phil Hewlin with a smirk and a smile throughout the entire evening. He mugged it up as Phil went through a series of attempts to convince the others that he could no longer carry Tiny Tim. When Bloch gets too close to Wellacre, Hendry’s Hewlin showed fits of jealousy that resembled what a middle school boy would show in the same circumstances.
Terence Johnson was the scene-stealer in this production. He acted with poise and just enough outrage at the theater antics and the lack of time for rehearsals to be believable, but it is really his performance in the second half of the play that stands out. The costuming department helps out with his performance. Combined with his facial expressions and body movements, he really gets the belly laughs.
The rest of the cast was good in their respective roles and kept the theater laughing throughout the performance.
Tickets are free for SLCC students, faculty and staff with a valid identification and $10 for general admission. They may be purchased by calling (801)957-3322. The theater seats about 50 people, so tickets are limited. The play continues through November 19, 2011.