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Theater Review: The Jesus Hickey

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- by Lyle Zimskind for LAist

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Harry Hamlin stars in The Jesus Hickey. | Photo: Ed Krieger
An awkwardly attempted make-out session down by the embankment in the Irish town of Sligo turns into a miracle when the hickey that appears on the girl’s neck the following morning bears a striking resemblance to Jesus Christ himself. Plus: the hickey proves to have a genuine healing effect on anyone who touches it. The girl with the Jesus hickey is cautiously glad that her suddenly-achieved curative powers can help people; her cantankerous, unemployed, hard-drinking father sees a chance to make lots of money off of her.Writer-director Luke Yankee’s new play, The Jesus Hickey, milks this rather lightweight premise for a few genuine laughs in the world premiere production that the Katselas Theatre Companyis currently staging in Los Feliz. And while the characters are largely stock figures familiar from almost any Irish drama you’ve seen before, most of the ensemble cast creditably enliven them.

Former L.A. Law star Harry Hamlin is the gruff dock worker Sean Flynn, eager to exploit his daughter’s celebrity potential after he loses his own job. Barbara Tarbuck is the family matriarch who matches Sean’s bluster with a feisty, yet benevolent temper of her own. And the real star of the show, although she only appears in alternate performances, is a sparkling young actress named Aviva, making her legit stage debut as the cheerily romantic-minded Agnes Flynn, who does her best to make everyone happy until she just can’t take it any more.

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Neither consistently funny enough to succeed as a screwball comedy nor sufficiently committed to its intermittent religious overtones to prod much substantive consideration of the nature of spiritual dogma, The Jesus Hickey is really little more than a pleasant two-hour melodramatic sitcom. Its decent moments are not infrequent, and they may even be worth the price of admission if you’re in the mood for a theatrical snack rather than a farcical feast. Just know in advance that you won’t be getting any further than first base.

The Jesus Hickey
Skylight Theater
1816 1/2 North Vermont Ave., Los Angeles
Fridays and Saturdays at 8 pm and Sundays at 2 pm through July 18
Tickets: $16.50 on lastagealliance.com and goldstar.com. $25 at the box office, $15 for students and seniors.