You think your holidays are stressful? Imagine you’re Rachel, the protagonist in Craig Lucas’ Reckless, opening Nov. 30 at 4th Wall Theatre Company. Her husband just informed her he’s hired a hit man to kill her, sending Rachel fleeing from her home.
“We try to avoid gooey,” says Kim Tobin-Lehl, co-artistic director of 4th Wall, who stars as Rachel. “But what I love about the character is that she embodies the spirit of Christmas.”
Tobin-Lehl is talking about her character’s resilience and optimism. Throughout the course of the show, Rachel leaves her home, finds herself doubting everything she knew, and discovering how to be open to new ideas and crazy adventures. Lucas’ dark comedy is about the triumph of the human spirit, even in the most harrowing of experiences.
4th Wall did the show back in 2010. Tobin-Lehl is reprising her role; the rest of the cast is brand new, and Tobin-Lehl is on stage with John Feltch, Nick Farco, Jennifer Dean, Deborah Hope, Zac Kelty and Kathleen Teodoro. Revisiting the script has been a fun time for Tobin-Lehl, even as she’s found herself newly challenged by the material.
“I think I’m a different person, a different actor than I was when we first did the show,” she says. “I look at the script now and I see things that are more important than I thought, so I feel like I get it on different levels.”
Philip Lehl, Tobin-Lehl’s husband and co-artistic director of 4th Wall, is directing the show. The pair have acted together and directed each other numerous times throughout 4th Wall’s existence, and Tobin-Lehl says they’ve grown together as artists. She likes that aspect of their work.
“Sometimes, though, when he’s directing me, I want him to push me, to get to certain scenes or aspects of the show faster. ‘I’ll get there,’ he tells me,” she says. “But it’s exciting for me to revisit the show—this beautiful, funny, quirky show.”
When it opened in 1988 on Broadway, The New York Times called the show “a bittersweet Christmas fable for our time,” and lauded its vaudevillian antics. Tobin-Lehl thinks the story still resonates, even with its crazy camp.
“Christmas, in a lot of ways, lives in a place in our imaginations,” she says. “And I think this crazy play lives in a kind of magical realm. It’s kind of a projection of the Christmas ideal. And it’s unlike anything else you’ll see this Christmas in Houston.”
Reckless, Nov. 30 – Dec. 16. Tickets from $17. 1824 Spring St., 832-786-1849. More info and tickets at 4thwalltheatreco.com.