Looking for cute?
You can find it in “Indoor/Outdoor,” currently on the Invisible Theatre stage.
Generally speaking, cute theater can cause a toothache.
But this Susan Claassen-directed comedy is so well done that we felt only a few pangs.
Here’s the setup: Samantha is a cat adopted from the shelter by lonely, isolated Shuman, a nerdish graphic artist.
Everything is just fine at first. Then Samantha becomes restless. And a tomcat has been coming around and she’s developed quite the crush. She wants, she must, break free. She longs to be an outdoor cat.
Shuman’s not keen on this — plus, while Samantha understands him, he does not speak meow. Communication is impossible.
But there’s hope in Matilda. She works at a vet’s office and she does speak meow.
However, Samantha is determined. She raises such a ruckus that Shuman can’t wait to throw her in the great outdoors. So she and her tomcat, Oscar, cross the country, headed for the ocean.
Ah, but really, can she find what’s she’s looking for by running away? Can any of us? Does she really have to leave home to find home? This Kenny Finkle play is packed with 10-cent philosophizing that is a tad eye-rolling.
That said, it’s impossible not to sit back and enjoy the show.
Jeanne Torres’ Samantha was seductive and funny. She possesses the stage and you don’t want her to leave it — and she barely does. She stepped into the paws and wiggled into the fur of the character and we kind of love her for it.
The nebbishy Shuman was perfectly confused and awkward in Christopher Younggren’s hands. He made us see his love for Samantha and his frustration at not understanding what she wants. And his character taught us an important lesson: When tempers flare, dance.
Bree Boyd played both Samantha’s mom and the often-befuddled Matilda, and she gave each distinction. She was a hoot in a very funny scene where she tries some convoluted couples’ counseling with Shuman and Samantha. Stevan Matthew Miller took on several roles, including Oscar, an alley cat with swagger, a Brooklyn accent and a yearning for Samantha. He owned them all.
“Indoor/Outdoor” is often cheesy, a bit too sentimental.
And yet, we laughed. A lot. And we marveled at the strong cast, solid direction, and a set with scratching posts in almost every corner.
We also marveled at this: This is the story of Samantha’s life, narrated by her. And it seems she’s a record breaker: By our count, she outlived Creme Puff, an Austin, Texas cat that was 38 years old when he died in 2005. Cute, yes, but a well-aged cute.