A scribe with severe writer’s block posts a sign in the window of his basement apartment. It announces that he will perform a psychic reading for $25. And so begins Sam Bobrick’s delightfully farcical new comedy “The Psychic,” now having its world premiere at the Falcon Theatre in Burbank.
Jeffrey Cannata is Adam Webster, the psychic, but he provides a hint of his ineptitude by writing his come-on sign in crayons and his business cards in pencil. Further, everyone who enters his grungy living space immediately tells him what he needs to do to fix it up and make it livable. (Including the suggestion that he “put in a skylight” in his basement apartment.)
Oddly enough, though, he soon has a paying customer: a well-dressed young matron (Dana Green) who wants to confirm that her husband is cheating on her and find out what she should do about it. After having offered to read her hand, or her taro cards, or offering the prospect of a tall, handsome lover, Webster finally confesses that he is not a psychic at all. But then, as she is leaving, he gets a vision that her husband is planning to murder her.
From there the visits multiply: one from her enraged husband (Cyrus Alexander), another from the husband’s enraged mistress (Bridget Flanery), a third from the mistress’ gangster boyfriend, Johnny Bubbles (Richard Horvitz), and finally, from a politely didactic police inspector (Phil Proctor).
And then the murders start. And you begin to recognize that this is a farce as successive bodies are found in the trunks of abandoned cars parked at 72nd and Broadway. (You know it’s a farce because if you’ve ever been to New York you know that nobody could ever find a place to park at that chaotic intersection! Especially since it’s only eight blocks from Zabar’s …)
By the second act you are sure there’s something peculiar going on: the well-dressed matron is living with the psychic and helping him with the plot of the book he has begun writing. But she is still wearing the same outfit she was wearing six weeks ago, when she first came to visit him. And the other characters keep coming and going, even though some of them are supposedly dead. (One, who is said to have been shot in the back of the head, is proclaimed “an obvious suicide!” by Johnny Bubbles.)
It’s an amusing plot with some g.o.l. (giggle-out-loud) dialogue, and the actors are obviously having fun with it. Director Susan Morgenstern provides brisk pacing for the actors and makes the most of playwright Bobrick’s “murder mystery of sorts.” Not a lot of creepy horror, but a lot of room for smirky drama and posturing, which this ensemble does so well. Jeff McLaughlin has designed an appropriately tacky set, Joanie Coyote has provided the appropriate costumes, and Nick McCord and David Beaudry make the appropriate lighting changes and background sounds, respectively.
As one of the characters notes in trying to solve the murders, “Common sense is a little too iffy.” Very true. Non-sense is much more practical — and a lot more fun. So enjoy your visit with ”The Psychic.”
“The Psychic” will run Wednesdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 4 p.m. through April 18 at the Falcon Theatre, 4252 Riverside Dr., in Burbank. Call (818) 955-8101 for tickets.
Cynthia Citron can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.