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BWW Reviews: …AND THE CHIHUAHUA II Sates the Palate at Lunch Time Theater

Karen Burns and Debra Rich deliver a pumped up and punchy portrayal of a dynamic duo of complementary if not competing spirits in a short play (of which they are as well the authors) that wonders out loud if the path to self-improvement and self-realization ever ends.

They are a delightful team of actresses who ply their stagecraft with finesse and breathe life and relevance into their characters, Carly Stanley (Burns) and Dina Klein (Rich), who, after meeting in Limbo in ...and the chihuahua I, manage the Living Legacy Detective Agency.

Dina Klein is about style and fashion, a material girl for whom the shopping bags from Nordstrom's, Lucy's and DSW that gird her desk can only go so far in defining herself. But she's no wimp; her history and her DNA require that she propel herself forward to be better. In a crisp contretemps with Carly about the differences between Judaism and Christianity, we see how the former denies her the luxury of acquiescence to the status quo.

On the other hand, Carly knows that we are loved. And Carly loves ~ loves her non-stop chattering mother, loves Channing Tatum, loves the dance of life. Burns is the calm breeze to Rich's tempest, grace in the eye of the storm ~ but she reveals too a delicious comic sensibility when she poses as Dina and manages to secure a grant that will test the wills and principles of both.

Life and even afterlife is a journey, or perhaps more aptly, in the case of ...and the chihuahua II, a work in progress. That work is set in the office of the Living Legacy Detective Agency, where the brand promise is "We help you find yourself." Indeed, the office is in limbo, more of a construction site, busy with stepladders and paint cans and signs that signal the transitory state of everything but affirm that "we will be new and beautiful."

It is as if Vladimir and Estragon have morphed into two vital women with words and spunk who are waiting for their Godot ~ or maybe their Godot keeps appearing but they just don't recognize him.

Rich and Burns have raised the limbo bar in two intelligent and adroit performances.

...and the chihuahua II runs at the Lunch Time Theater on The Kax Stage at the Herberger Theater in Phoenix through August 14th.

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