THE SHOPLIFTERS kicks off 1812 Productions’ season with an uproarious look into the reasons people steal, and why others chase them. An overzealous security guard in training called Dom (Daniel Fredrick) has apprehended two women, an elderly pro and a scared newbie, during an attempted theft of prime cut steaks. Hell bent on upholding the law, Frederick wildly dashes around demanding information and confessions, but his mentor, and veteran security guard, Otto (Johnnie Hobbs, Jr.), has a different take, “We’re not just talking about ladies with steaks up their dresses!”
Otto and the elder of the two shoplifters, Alma (Mary Martello), see nuance everywhere and lead most of the dialogue surrounding morality. On the other side of the spectrum, Frederick and the young terrified shoplifter, Phyllis (Marla Burkholder), are all histrionics and generalizations. The switch between calm and thoughtful conversation, to frantic gesticulations and shouting matches always came as a shock, but it seemed to fit into the unusual dynamic of THE SHOPLIFTERS. Plot points jump out from nowhere, the whole premise arises from coveting quality meat, and violent religious fanaticism even makes an appearance. Somehow it works, and creates raucous laughter in the process. [Arden Theatre] August 27 – September 20, 2015, fringearts.com/the-shoplifters.