Pinkos galore

Red Herring

Red Herring, 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday, Saturday; 2:30 p.m. Sunday; $13-$15. Big Idea Theatre, 1616 Del Paso Boulevard; (916) 960-3036; Through September 15.

Big Idea Theatre

1616 Del Paso Blvd.
Sacramento, CA 95815

(916) 390-9485

Rated 5.0

The Cold War world that gave us McCarthyism springs wide open in Big Idea Theatre’s presentation of the gritty, hilarious Red Herring by Michael Hollinger. Benjamin T. Ismail directs, and every part of the world on stage brims with energy, especially when the players work together to create pitch-perfect comedic timing.

A Soviet mole—with as many pseudonyms as secrets—is on the loose, and it’s up to Maggie Pelletier (Joelle Robertson), a “flatfoot in high heels,” to figure out the link between a recent death and the spy she’s been trying to catch for years. Robertson plays the lead detective with a hard nose, but rarely does she let a joke fall through the cracks.

With a cast of six, with Elizabeth Holzman and Jouni Kirjola hysterically multitask, covering the minor characters.

The stage, designed by Justin D. Muñoz, is a malleable part of the cast. With each scene—some lasting less than a minute—the stage is reshaped and formed. It’s got more hinges than a Transformer. The folding backgrounds work well with little room for error. More than anything, though, it is the clockwork cast that moves the pieces seamlessly to tie together the different locales.

Lighting and color—with lighting design by Brian Harrower—play a large part in the production. Stark black-and-white contrasts or bright, insincere oranges, as well as the Venetian blind lighting effect used for the undercover FBI office add the perfect touch for this Cold War farce.