Two lonely, unalike people meet, bond, quarrel (just in time for an act break), but reunite and stick together till one has to go. This cookie-cutter pattern has served for a thousand plays, but an experienced hand can still put a little sizzle and a little brain into it, as William Gibson does in Handy Dandy, where the conflicting pair are a rule-bookish judge and an activist nun who lives to trespass at the local nuclear weapons plant. In Don Amendolia’s rawish production, Gibson’s professionally measured mixture—a little social comment, a little comedy, a little psychologizing, a little spirituality—takes on an appealing innocent crudity.
After all, who wouldn’t want to be tickled a little, moved a little, and prodded to think a little, when the principal tickler and prodder is the canny, appealing Helen Gallagher. Those who know Gallagher only as the brash wisecracking dame she’s played in countless musicals will be surprised at her delicacy here; she even brings the role a touch of whimsy. Nicolas Surovy, a late replacement, gives the more nebulous role of her nemesis a crusty energy. Overall, the event’s no more than handy. But Gallagher’s dandy.