The plot’s thick in ‘The Best Laid Plans’

By Meredith Pechta | Apr 10, 2014
Who dun it?! Audience members may have trouble figuring it out in Phoenix Theatre’s production of “The Best Laid Plans,” a fast-paced farce packed with laughs, playing now through April 27.

Are you a fan of “007” or “Get Smart?” If so, “Best Laid Plans” is the play for you. It’s a satirical spy story with a confounding plot that would make Bond himself green with envy.

The story begins in Jamaica in 1958. A little old lady author has come there with her secretary Francis for what appears to be a vacation.

Quickly we learn that her adventures are not confined to the page. Ada is there to meet a secret agent who will pass along some plans that the U.S. is supposed to receive from her.

The problem is she doesn’t know what this contact looks like. They go by code words, which have unfortunately been passed around to a number of individuals who might be the enemy.

Before we know it, we have bodies hidden in the house, evil twins, Russians posing as Americans, double agents and nervous granddaughters who aren’t into necrophilia.

How much can a spy novelist take? – a lot, actually, since she knows how these things play out and also knows karate. Jessica Fletcher would be proud.

The Phoenix Theatre has put together a great cast. Melanie Calderwood leads the way as the spy novelist turned government go-between. She’s in many of their productions. She’s hilarious.

Austin Gregory does double duty. He’s the director of the show and also plays Michael Crenza, who may be dead, or a bad guy, or neither.

Carrissa Meisner Smit plays the befuddled secretary Francis. She’s a good sport as she drinks her way through dead bodies, who may or may not stay dead.

Her daughter Deanna Smit plays Gail Westbrook, Ada’s engaged granddaughter. She’s thrown into the deep end of the plot – and the play, since this is Deanna’s first time on this stage.

Her fiancé, Guy, tries hard to find a way to be part of the family. He’s played by Woody Lotts. He has to do a lot of heavy lifting, in more ways than one.

Doug Knoop plays Hubert, Guy’s father and Ada’s suitor. He might also be one of the bad guys. Only J. Edgar Hoover would know by that point.

Aza Sholdez plays Mr. Goral. As an actor, he must put his performance in the others’ hands. Especially when he plays a corpse. But hold on, he’s also a twin of the corpse. And he may be the good guy or the bad guy. With the Russian accent, it’s hard to tell.

Michael G. McFadden plays Bob. He may or may not have died on his boat. Either way, he has a blast in the part. He and Aza Sholdez used to be veterans at the Historic Everett Theater.

Jordan Fermstad and Renee Gilbert play Russian spies who pose as Americans. They too have to do much manhandling. They’re a versatile team.

Don’t miss this trip to Jamaica. It’s a vacation you won’t soon forget.

“The Best laid Plans” is playing at the Phoenix Theatre, located at 9673 Firdale Ave., in Edmonds’ Firdale Village, through April 27. For ticket information, call (206) 533-2000.

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