by Carter Lewis
Stage 3 lands big 'Catfish Moon'
by Gary Linehan
The Union Democrat
It's hard to define the perfect play, but "Catfish Moon" at Stage 3 in Sonora is a good place to start.
It's a hilarious look at fishing, beer and the meaning of life, particularly as it pertains to aging, friendship and the struggle between men and women, or more precisely, the struggles between men over women.
Playwright Laddy Sartin has crafted a witty, poignant work of art that deftly flows between graceful subtlety and outright lunacy.
Bringing the play to life are four talented actors on one unchanging set - a remote lakeside pier.
Three school buddies who have drifted apart over the years return to their old haunt for one last night of reflection and revelry, with ample fishing gear, an enviable supply of beer and the preordained absence of women.
By the time she shows up, things have already deteriorated badly and continue from there to sink like an overweighted line.
Besides boyhood memories, the three men have another thing in common. Betty, the woman who shows up is one's sister, one's ex-wife and the other's fiancée. Their individual ties and shifting alliances provide plenty of fuel for both funny and thought- propelling situations.
The rapport between the actors is so keen there is no doubting the sometimes dizzying situations could actually occur - and the dialogue is so cleverly honed that the opening night audience frequently could not. help laughing out loud.
Playing the trio of friends are Stephen Daly as Curley, who fears a weak heart will shorten his days; Mitch Hrdlicka as Gordon, an aging bachelor, and Tom Silvers as the divorcee Frog. Sherry Dumos plays Betty.
All give outstanding performances and seemed to be enjoying themselves as well as entertaining the audience.
And that's no tall tale.
The whole package was brought together beautifully by director Don Bilotti, Stage 3 Theatre Company's new Artistic Director.
Lighting design is by Ron Madonia, with costumes by Maryann Curmi and set design by Chris Sutherst and Denny Anderson.