Huntington Beach Playhouse's production of "Catch Me If You Can" doesn't quite find the sparkle or the spontaneity that would help this undistinguished comedy-thriller become something more than ho-hum. There are few twists in what is mostly a long, straight road, and the denouement, although cute and effective, simply isn't worth the wait.
The convoluted story, set in the Catskills, concerns a newlywed man who may or may not be insane and an attractive woman who may or may not be his missing bride. Also on hand is the inspector who may or may not be as dense as he seems, and a friendly stranger with an Irish accent who may or may not be a priest.
By the time the puzzle is put together, the viewer may or may not care.
Director Phil de Barros has taken a no-frills approach to presenting it all, not adding the badly needed suspense and sense of surprise that the script lacks. And unfortunately, none of the characters are sufficiently engaging to sustain interest, although the cast draws them competently enough.
As the man with the disappearing wife, Scott Zuckman is nicely unaffected and suitably histrionic when need be. As the woman who claims to be his wife, Jackie L. Mikulka has a better feel for the hard edges of the character than for her feigned helplessness. William Malkin, as the inspector, and Ed Belfrey, as the priest, both have a number of effectively sly moments, and Gregory M. Cohen contributes a broad but amusing cameo as the delicatessen owner who becomes embroiled in the confusion.
"Catch Me if You Can" continues through May 24 at Huntington Beach Playhouse in Seacliff Village, Golden West Street and Yorktown Avenue, Huntington Beach. For information, call (714) 832-1405.