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071719-mda-nws-richmondhill

Richmond Hill Players' "Missing Link" features, from left, Archie Williams, Don Faust,  Dana Skiles and Kevin Keck.

“Missing Link" the current romantic comedy offering from Richmond Hill Players’ has a little more meat on the bone than their typical rom-com fare.

The play is written by the rather prolific writer in this genre, Jack Sharkey, and ably directed by longtime RHP and Geneseo School District veteran, Joe DePauw.

Set in the 1970s, the plot revolves around Belinda Baxter (Mandi Wilson), who has been in a self-imposed cloister pining away for her high-school sweetheart, WWII enlistee Lincoln Sinclair (Jim Strauss), who has been MIA ever since.

Thanks to a stumble down the stairs that injures her back, Melinda meets orthopedist Simon Fletcher (Don Faust). Fletcher falls for Melinda and she for him — she thinks — and we meet them as they prepare for their wedding rehearsal. Complicating the lovebirds’ consummation is the brother and sister duo of Jake (Matthew McConville) and Fiona (Dana Skiles) Broderick. The pair, who are the best man and maid of honor, have suppressed their feelings, she for Simon and he for Belinda, for a very long time.

However, the miraculous return of Lincoln from the desert isle on which he was stranded on the night before the wedding sets in motion a myriad of misconceptions that help to ice Belinda’s already cold feet. She questions whether to dump Simon and marry Lincoln instead, sending mom (Jackie Skiles) and dad (Archie Williams, Jr.) into a panic that a long-planned and oft-scuttled tropical trip will once again be postponed.

From there, we’re led down a jungle path of twists and turns that upsets the pineapple cart of predictability.

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The somewhat juvenile script has slightly stilted dialogue that generates amused chuckles rather than hearty guffaws and gets off to a bit of a slow start in Act 1, as it slogs through setting up the plot and introducing the characters. However, it revs up in Acts 2 and 3 as the plot thickens and the stew pot is stirred, which makes it worth the wait.

Kudos go out to Jackie Skiles as the mother of the bride who brings a natural and fluent performance to the role and to Faust’s and Wilson’s portrayals of the jilted fiance and baffled bride. They are supported by a strong cast.

Also, it is worth mentioning the costuming pulled together by Suzanne Rakestraw, who managed to round up truly cringe-worthy 1970s clothing (did we really wear that?).

So if you’re looking for some respite from the simmering summer heat, RHP has what it takes to deliver some cool entertainment.

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