Spotlight: Protection Program

Aaron Christopher

Urban Samurai's contemporary farce unashamedly embraces its own shaggy illogic to tell the story of Otto Pfaff (Nate Hessburg). Otto, it seems, lacks the ability to properly pronounce his own (false) name, which he took up after entering the witness protection program. (He turned over hot information in an embezzling case.) His handler, a U.S. marshal (Ryan Grimes), drops Otto off in a small-town apartment and then becomes completely unavailable. Otto, apparently never stable in the most placid of circumstances, descends into a hysterical tizzy at the arrival of Cynthia (Marcia Svaleson). She has rented the same apartment, we learn, after a name mix-up that, in real life, would have seen everyone drop to his knees to worship the god of Chance. Here, it slides by easily in the wake of lascivious neighbors, recurring head-injury gags, and the arrival of an assassin who seems to be sucking on a sour tooth. Writer Aaron Christopher and director Matt Greseth present this stuff with an appealingly cracked sunniness, and while the proceedings are sitcom light, the cast sells the material like an energetic Girl Scout mother who knows her daughter is too flighty to move the cookies. Hessburg plays Otto with a perpetual case of the vapors; Svaleson is as tough as a rawhide chew toy. At one point, she has him on his back on a sofa, her foot planted in the middle of his chest—an irresistible force coming into contact with a very movable body.

 
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