'You’ve Got Hate Mail' at The Boom in OKC
"You've Got Hate Mail" is a comedy of words by Billy Van Zandt and Jane Milmore playing at the Boom through the end of May. Directed by Brett Young, the rather witty script is composed of the email of the five characters and the comic confusions that result when a businessman’s affair accidentally gets back to his wife and her best friend, who take steps to respond.
Darron Dunbar was very funny as Richard, the man with too many women. Once the mail gets to the wrong person, his on-the-side office romance with Wanda (Erin Heatly), threatens to break up his marriage to Stephanie (Jen Wells), and he ropes in his buddy George (Tyler Clark). George begins as a kind of voyeur to the affair, then his interactions bring him in touch with Stephanie’s BFF Peg (Cory King), and George and Peg begin a romance.
Dunbar gives us a thoughtless and hapless Richard, whose various efforts to keep both his wife and his mistress are fraught with error and failure. The role is an everyman caught in a net of his own weaving, and the audience is invited to enjoy his failures and errors. It is a form of clown character, where we find our amusement at his expense. Dunbar executed the role very well, bringing us into Richard’s foibles and along for the ride through his failures.
Heatly was appropriately obvious as the inevitable tart, Wanda. Continuously in-heat, Wanda is apparently looking for marriage as the inevitable result of sex—another human error that we can find amusing. Heatly delivers a hypersexualized, almost predatory woman with just the right touch of posturing to take it over the top.
The loyal and stay-at-home wife Stephanie, naively trusting, is expertly played by Wells. This is one of the characters who actually grows and changes in the course of the show; Stephanie becomes aware, then actually liberated, in the process of shedding herself of Richard. Wells takes us from adoringly naïve through hurt and indignant to eventual self-actualization, and she does it with careful pacing and intelligence.
Peg, Stephanie’s BFF, is played by King initially as a sarcastic partner in crime, then as a charmingly romantic partner in a short romance with George, then again as a slightly bitter woman willing to look at other options. The shifts make some dramatic sense, and King delivers them with caustically correct comic timing.
George, played by Clark, is the inept buddy who has fantasies about everyone else because he has no love life of his own. In the process of interacting with Richard and the women, his own life opens up; Clark shows us both a softer side and a more opportunistic side of George as the character explores romantic options with more than one of Richard’s female acquaintances.
The simple set and lighting works well for what is really a comedy of electronic manners. The presence of unexplained and unused props was a little distracting. The production as a whole feels slightly forced, as if the director does not quite trust the script or the actors to be funny on their own. Some of the musical diversions seem out of place, as if they are there to create or underline a joke, or to make sure the audience “gets it”—a tactic that rarely succeeds.
“You’ve Got Hate Mail” offers an amusing evening, although it suffers from a small audience. It needs a larger and slightly more rowdy crowd of folks out for a good time—people prepared to be engaged by the broad and slightly coarse style of comedy that “You’ve Got Hate Mail” offers.
Once again, the Boom’s kitchen offers a great meal; desserts are made in the Boom’s kitchen and they change each week, so the lemon-blueberry cheesecake is most likely gone. The steaks, however, and the show are there through the end of May—two more weekends—Friday and Saturday at 8:00. Dinner service begins at 6:30, with a full bar available.
Tickets are available via Ticketstorm. Call (866) 966-1777 for tickets, or go to ticketstorm.com; there is also a link on the Boom’s website at theboomokc.com. Located at 2218 NW 39th Street in OKC, the Boom is open to patrons over 21 only.