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Red Handed Otter

By Ethan Liptonredot logo

Directed by Dado

At A Red orchid Theatre, Chicago

“I mean, I’ve had other cats, As a kid we had cats,

they were great cats, but compared to Jennifer?

If you just look at it objectively?

We’re talking about one of the best cats in history!” – Paul

Sweet comedy about animal-loving losers

The set (designed by Jim Moore) for A Red Orchid’s Red Handed Otter shows the security video surveillance room from a large facility. Paul (Guy Van Swearigen) is brooding as he listens to classical music in the control room. His fellow security guard, Donald (Luce Metrius) listens sympathetically as Paul morns the loss of his 17 year old cat. The animal stories begin as these security guards recall their adventures with their beloved pets. This funny show appeals to animal lovers. The boredom of watching surveillance is used to tell stories, here about pets as well as lamenting life’s lost opportunities that left these folks being security guards.


We learn the Donald is dating Paul’s ex, Angela (Ashley Neal) who is also a security gurad here. Tension between the Paul and Donald simmers.  Rounding out the cast are Estelle (Mierka Girten ) and  Randy (Bob Kruse) who work the afternoon shift before the night shift by Paul and Donald. These two are attractive to one another but both have trouble expressing their feelings.


All five use their animal stories to express both their capacity to love and their frustration as life’s underachievers. however, during the 90 minute comedy, we hear Donald tell of his red handed otter from his childhood, Randy speaks about his hermit crab he loved form childhood, “the perfect combination of a wet and dry pet.” This monologue was a hoot! When the four asked Estelle about her pets, she replied:  “We had people! The house was full, and everybody in it was a person!” The other three guards shouted their horror. “No pets!”


But this comedy is equally about a group of losers who can’t deal with their emotions and the navigation required in personal relationships. We witness a physical explosion between Paul and  Donald as well as Estelle and Randy awkwardly moving closer together. Guy Van Swearingen leads the fine cast whose comic timing is spot-on.

This slice-of-live comedy is a funny, cute and honest presentation of how underachieving but nice folks struggle with the pitfalls of life. We see how their love for animals my be their only satisfying life achievement. On one level or another, we can relate and sympathize with all five. Red Handed Otter is a cute little comedy that satisfies.


Tom Williams

Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast

Date Reviewed: April 13, 2015

Jeff Recomended

For more info checkout the red Handed Otter page at

At A Red Orchid  Theatre, 1531 N. Wells, Chicago, IL, call 312-943-8722,, tickets $30 – $35,  Fridays & Saturdays at 8 pm, Sundays at 3 pm, running time is 90 minutes without intermission, through May 24, 2015