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Clicks & Bradshaw

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CLICKS & BRADSHAW, at Hi Ricky Randolph. It's poetic justice: Penny Alspaugh's jerky staging perfectly complements Sharon Rieken's clumsy melodrama. A smoother production would make the play's flaws even more apparent. And a less repetitious script could certainly use a sharper staging. But Rieken's overwritten, inept update of the parable of the prodigal son deserves what it gets. She imagines a bookish but well-meaning son, Will, chronically dumped on by his materialistic family: his go-getter father, owner of a car dealership; his sluttish, booze-hound mother; her lover, the father's best friend and top salesman; and Will's feckless younger brother, the prodigal son, who wants to turn the good brother against the bad dad.

The plot chases its tail like a very dumb dog. Moods shift erratically as Rieken capriciously unpacks one piece of emotional baggage after another. This endless 110-minute play cries out for plot twists, reversals of expectation, or at least complex characterization. What it gets is the yammering of Olympic-level bores.

The community-theater performances are so bumpy they seem at the mercy of air turbulence. Since our sympathies are meant to go to poor, misunderstood Will--the play's pathetic moral center--it would help if he were portrayed with something like warmth. But Matthew Soraci makes him such a whining wimp that Will's revenge on his unfeeling family couldn't matter less.

--Lawrence Bommer

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