Is it jealousy that makes divorcees Mary and Jo suspicious of their best friend’s new boyfriend?
Or could he actually be a serial killer?
His creepy ski mask, disturbing jokes and fondness for the 1991 thriller “The Silence of the Lambs” strongly suggests that might be the case.
But Mary and Jo — who are better suited for fun runs and book clubs than investigating potential murderers — won’t know for sure until they do some digging of their own in “Women in Jeopardy,” which opens May 24 at Phoenix Theatre in Edmonds.
The 2015 play may sound like it has an ominous premise, but it’s a comedy. Think of it as a mash-up of “Thelma and Louise” and “The First Wives Club.”
Many of the laughs come from the friends’ snappy conversations, as Mary (Susan Connors) and Jo (Melanie Calderwood) try to break their friend Liz (BriAnne Green) from her love spell.
“The dialogue is so crisp and so fast, it’s just really funny,” said Rick Wright, the play’s director. “It just comes at you like a machine gun and it’s right out of the gate.”
Liz’s new boyfriend, a dentist named Jackson (Bruce Erickson), is creepy from the get-go when he makes a surprise appearance at Chardonnay Tuesday, the women’s weekly wine night.
Liz makes excuses that her love interest is just socially awkward, but things get weird when he casually mentions that one of his hygienists was abducted from a parking lot.
“He says, ‘Well, I have other hygienists,’” Calderwood said. “It’s like, ‘What?!’ He’s so deadpan and so off the wall, and we are so hyper-offended by it.”
When Mary and Jo find out Jackson is taking Liz’s 19-year-old daughter, Amanda (Marijke Boers), on a camping trip alone, they swing into action.
The women enlist the help of an investigator named Sgt. Kirk Sponsüllar — who shares an uncanny resemblance to Jackson (and also is played by Erickson) — and Amanda’s dimwitted boyfriend, Trenner (James Lynch).
But will they rescue Amanda in time? Or are Mary and Jo’s suspicions unwarranted?
Evan Thompson: 425-339-3427, firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @ByEvanThompson.
If you go
Phoenix Theatre’s production of “Women in Jeopardy” stages from May 24 to June 16. Shows are 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays.
The theater is at 9673 Firdale Ave., Edmonds. Tickets are $25 for adults, $20 for seniors, students and the military. The theater invites cancer patients and survivors to attend the show for free. For more information, call 206-533-2000 or go to www.tptedmonds.org.