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Capsule Reviews

Our critics weigh in on local theater

Poor Richard Poor Richard, everyone says in Jean Kerr's romantic comedy -- so talented, such a waste. The characters are talking about the best-selling poet Richard Ford (Kent Johnson), whose slim volume The Girl with a Velvet Ribbon has made Richard a very rich, famous writer. Unfortunately, the girl in question, his beautiful socialite wife, has died, leaving him bereft and guilt-ridden, finding solace in any liquor bottle at hand. Richard revels in being drunk as much as he does in being a wicked wit. He also suffers from monumental writer's block, much to the annoyance of publisher/editor Sydney (George Brock), who wants another literary cash cow as soon as possible. To facilitate Richard's output and keep him sober, Sydney sends in his ace assistant -- and fiancée -- Catherine (Shannon Emerick) to be his secretary. The three main characters are extremely well-drawn, involving and likable. Richard's raffish, loveable rogue is hard to beat, and Johnson wears his world-weary attitude as if it's Armani. He almost twinkles when he savors Kerr's numerous witticisms. Emerick gives no-nonsense Catherine a freshness that pairs beautifully with Richard's edges. She dilutes his alcohol with dew. Brock transforms publisher Sydney's ordinariness into virtue. But the heartbreak within Kerr's comedy is deep and affecting, too, especially when Meghan Hakes, as Richard's fashionable sister-in-law, reveals the cracks in his personal foundation, infusing her brief scene with chilling propriety. Through December 23. Main Street Theater, 2540 Times Blvd., 713-524-6706.

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