Take two of the best actors in North Texas, put them in a fresh play by a local playwright, and give them a director (Andy Baldwin) who knows how to craft and elicit amazing performances, and you got something. It seems like a simple formula, but it is one too often overlooked in a lot of plays. Audacity Theatre Lab provides that straightforward prescription in their delightful and rousing production of Brad McEntire’s Raspberry Fizz at Water Tower Theatre’s Out of the Loop Fringe Festival.
The scene is 1949 in small town U.S.A., and young Ellison (Jeff Swearingen) is trying to screw up his courage to ask his adolescent classmate Samantha (Natalie Young) to the Harvest Dance. Throw in a bizarre carnival barker (an understated Shane Beeson) peddling mysterious wares on the corner who is not making things easy for “Elli.”
Again, it is a modest setup, but one that is truly magical in these able hands. Swearingen (The Hand at Broken Gears and many plays at Plano Children’s Theatre) captures the essence of a sweet, yet annoying and awkward proto-nerd. He’s a hoot in high pants. Young (Red Light Winter at Second Thought) as the tough and fast-talking Sam is an incandescent ball of gum-chomping charm. She nails the wisecracking smarts and speech patterns of those screwball comedies from the 1930s and 40s.
The right ingredients make this Fizz beyond refreshing.