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Duck Hunter Shoots Angel

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It's terrible, I know, but prejudging events, places and people is a practice with which I am not unfamiliar. At a certain age, you realize that there really is nothing new under the sun and while I mayn't have seen it all, I've pretty much seen what I need to.

For instance, when I heard what Mitch Albom's bestselling Tuesdays with Morrie was about, I knew I should stay as far away as possible, since I rank life-affirming and heart-warming messages right up there with root canals. And when I heard the title of Albom's next book, Five People You Meet in Heaven ... well, they should have called it Ted, Just Keep Walking Past This Bookshelf.

I signed up to review a play called Duck Hunter Shoots Angel at Little Lake Theater mostly because I'm a big fan of "The Lake," and of some of the oddball plays artistic director Sunny Disney Fitchett manages to locate. It wasn't until too late that I learned Albom was the author. I was sure the drive home would find me with a warmed heart and an affirmed life; is it any wonder I drove out so slowly?

But not for the first time, I was wrong.

As it turns out, Albom's play is really just a boatload of laughs. To be sure, there is a seriously cloying ending in store -- but you can see it coming a mile away and if you're clever, you can move aside.

A washed-up writer for a supermarket tabloid is sent to cover the story of two Southern hicks who believe they've shot an angel in the woods. That's pretty much it: a classic clashing-cultures comedy. Albom's plus is that he doesn't condescend to the hicks -- they may be unsophisticated, but they're not unknowledgeable. His offbeat look at these offbeat characters really is rather fun, and while I'm not sure that negates his horrifically manipulative ending, there are worse things than spending the preceding 90 minutes laughing.

Director Jena Oberg's staging plays out as overly complicated and restricting, and a few of the cast aren't as forceful as they should be, but I did enjoy Scott Van de Mark, Joe Jasek and Lauren Hobbs.

 

Duck Hunter Shoots Angel continues through June 7. Little Lake Theatre, 500 Lakeside Drive South (off Route 19), Canonsburg. 724-745-6300.

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