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Theater review: 'Out of Sterno'

Curiosity prompts a woman to leave her apartment for the first time in seven years in the Carpenter Square Theatre production of “Out of Sterno.”
BY JOHN BRANDENBURG Published: July 7, 2013

A dotty heroine named Dotty tells us the story of her life in “Out of Sterno,” a play that is almost impossible not to like, combining qualities of a fairy tale and tall tale with those of a wacky comic strip adventure. The wickedly funny yet touching script by Deborah Zoe Laufer is staged with great verve by a cast of four led by its naive narrator-protagonist at Carpenter Square Theatre.

A'Mari Jo Rocheleau was delightful as Dotty, who hasn't left their apartment in Sterno — a town “somewhere in America” — for seven years. Dotty hasn't left the apartment because her husband, Hamel, tells her not to, citing his father's advice.

Instead, she waits all day, watching a video re-enactment of their first meeting, doing the laundry and making dinner until he gets home from his garage job to change clothes and romance other women at night.

When she does finally leave the apartment, Dotty soon discovers there's a more tawdry than brave new world out there, populated by such zany characters as Zena, a hair stylist from hell, having an affair with Hamel.

Playing Zena with potty-mouthed panache, J. Christine Lansing soon had Dotty, renamed “Peaches,” cleaning the salon's toilet with a toothbrush, filling in as her assistant and sitting still for a facial.

This was convenient, since it meant that Hamel didn't recognize his wife, her face covered with slowly hardening green plaster, when he comes to pick up Zena, his soon-to-be fiancee, for a hot date.

Dalton Thomas portrayed Hamel with a charmingly macho but clueless panache of his own, like a disco version of the comic strip-like Stanley, shouting for his little woman, in “A Streetcar Named Desire.”

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