Jack Goes Boating

Rated 4.0

Jack is a good-hearted, slovenly, loveable loser. He’s employed, barely, as a limousine driver (actually more of a cabbie) in New York City, driving wealthy people to places he would never go on his own, like the airport or fancy stores.

The job involves a cell phone, but on his own time Jack prefers old-school technology. He carries an ancient, battery-powered cassette player, and it’s always playing the same tune: the Melodians’ early reggae anthem “By the Rivers of Babylon.”

Fortunately, Jack is clear enough to realize that he’s no Rasta man himself—though he does enjoy a bit of ganja (among other substances) when the opportunity arises.

Ah, but love has motivating powers, particularly in an oddball romantic comedy like this one. Once Jack’s friends Clyde and Lucy introduce him to Connie (single and available), Jack develops ambition.

Connie says she’d like to go boating. Jack, who’s afraid of deep water, decides to take swimming lessons from Clyde. (And Jack’s aquatic education, presented on the bone-dry B Street stage, is quite funny.)

Likewise, after Connie remarks that no one has ever cooked her a fancy dinner, Jack decides to take classes so he can prepare a culinary masterpiece, and he approaches the task like a strategic planner.

Truth is, hapless Jack, who has little experience in the ways of love, is pursuing his relationship with Connie with the same kind of slow, steady diligence with which he’s learning about swimming and food. And that turns him into something of a teddy bear.

Connie, for her part, works in phone sales alongside Lucy, pushing grief-stricken callers to surrender their credit card numbers in return for advice from a mental-health guru called Dr. Bob.

This comedy delights, detailing the ups and downs of these ordinary, lower-middle-class folks. Cast members Peter Story (Jack) and Dana Brooke (Connie) sustain their unique romance with credibility, while John Lamb has one of his best B Street roles in some time as the anxious, doubting Clyde. Former B Street intern Tara Sissom brings the requisite flirtatious possibilities to Lucy. Director Buck Busfield sustains an “anything could happen” sense of spontaneity in a show that relies on a certain randomness to succeed.