Arts and Entertainment

Dating advice from Bogie

The Jewel Box kicks off its new season with Woody Allen’s 1970’s comedy “Play It Again, Sam.”

POULSBO — “Dames are simple.”

At least, according to the ghost of Humphrey Bogart in Woody Allen’s classic relationship head trip — “Play It Again, Sam.”

“I never met one that didn’t understand a slap in the mouth or a slug from a 45,” director David Siskin says in his best Bogie impression, finishing the line from the show which debuts at the Jewel Box this weekend.

The main character Allan Felix (played by Ashley Hurd) is a big city movie buff and film critic who’s just been through a big mess of a divorce. He’s trying to get back on his feet and find other women, with a little help from two of his friends, a married couple — Linda (Jacquie Taylor) and Dick (Bruce Taylor).

All along, inside his head, Allan receives dating advice from this fantasy ghost version of Bogart, one of his idols and personal heroes. It’s all very schizophrenic, but exciting for fans of both Bogie and Allen to see the awkward-but-brilliant bookish type and the fedora-sporting womanizer come together within the character of Allan Felix.

In fact, the Woody/Bogie combo is what led Siskin to pick the show when the Jewel Box asked him to direct a piece for them this season. But the task of portraying this fantasy ghost inside of a dream sequence, and going back and forth between that and reality, also makes for one monster of a stage production.

A veteran of so many shows that he’s lost count, Siskin said this is one of — if not the — most technically demanding plays he’s directed. The script has more than 50 light cues and nearly 40 sound prompts.

“And it all has to be synchronized to the nanosecond for it to come out right,” Siskin said, talking with What’s Up in the Jewel Box breakroom before rehearsal last week. “Everything happens, with a comedy especially, within nanoseconds ... we work for that timing.”

In addition to the all-important comedic timing of the actors onstage, all those light and sound cues will be equally important in this piece, because a good portion of the play takes place inside the main character’s head. The lighting and sound settings, pulled off correctly, are key for the audience to know the difference between the dream sequences and the reality of Allan Felix’s New York apartment, Siskin said.

Similarly in the play, Allan struggles to get in touch with his true inner self in the reality of his life and relationships, in spite of the ever-presence and influential, womanizing ghost of Bogart.

“In order to succeed as a human being, you can’t emulate other people,” Siskin said. “You have to know who you are and come to grips with yourself ... I think that’s what Woody Allen is saying here.”

Allen’s tortured hero does finally find his way back through a no-pressure relationship, but, unsurprisingly, it’s with a girl that he can’t have.

Remember the ending from “Casablanca?”

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