Something fishy

Red Herring Blue Room Sat., Sept. 11 Shows Thurs.-Sat., 7:30 p.m. through Sept. 25 Benefit show, Sun., Sept. 26, 7:30 p.m.

Love, murder, international espionage, nuclear annihilation: Surely, with the application of a dark sense of humor, a fine comedy can be concocted from these elements.

If you believe that, go catch a performance of Michael Hollinger’s Red Herring. The play, which is set in 1952, satirizes the era’s film-noir dramatics and Cold War politics and weaves together the stories of three wacky couples whose romantic difficulties are entangled around the theft and sale of nuclear secrets.

Craig Blamer and Betty Burns, as FBI agent Frank Keller and Detective Maggie Pelletier, respectively, play a hard-boiled duo who communicate with snappy ‘50s-style banter as they investigate the murder of an unidentified victim.

Lynn McCarthy (Samantha Perry), daughter of the infamous Senator Joe, and her boyfriend James Appel (Jeremy Votava), a Soviet spy who wants her to convey his stolen secrets, are representative of the more innocent and idealistic side of 1950s America.

And then there is the most unlikely couple of all, the Soviet fisherman/spy Andrei Borchevsky (Martin Chavira) and his lover and partner in crime Mrs. Kravitz (Lorna Bridges).

Borchevsky is the stand-out character in the play, and Chavira uses all of his considerable comedic powers to bring the character to hilarious life; his slapstick sign-language scene with Mrs. Kravitz and Agent Keller is a show stealer.

With six actors playing 18 characters and a script that supplies dozens of laughs, Red Herring offers a rich two hours of comedy theater well worth spying on.