Like the groundswell after a tectonic shift, Kemp is a force of nature. He'sblustery, tempestuous and white-fisted over the foibles of the people around him.His wholesale self-centeredness is the product of a substantial personalinventory, which reveals a life fraught with backstabbing co-workers andapathetic family and friends. As he's summoned to the bedside of a dying aunt hehasn't seen in 30 years, he gets a rare chance to let fly-and let fly he does,with vaguely Hitlerian invective. Human beings have infuriating inability toaccount for their transgressions; their lives are the stuff of sideshows amid thepassivity that's swallowed them whole. Vigil, running through March 31 at the6th@Penn Theatre, is the opening production of the Fritz Theatre's 15thseason-and for the most part, it's nice. You can point to award-winning Canadianplaywright Morris Panych as the source of whatever seams exist. His scenario isneatly horizontal and compact, especially when Kemp's at his nastiest, but italso contains a highly ill-advised plot device near the end-it's blatantly swipedfrom another level of genre, and it wears more than a little over the top. Andthe text has moments of indecision that yield incredibly silly dialogue. "If youdon't die soon," Kemp wails at one point, "I think it's going to kill me!"Puh-leeeze. But director Rosina Reynolds has a hold on the Pinteresque humor,which briskly shifts from the farcical to the macabre. She's got Ron Choularton'sKemp deftly walking the line between each affectation as he comments on theseasons' inexorable passings-his clownish attempt to strangle himself melds withhis crack about Grace's dentures, his derision of the handicapped and a sick lineabout the embalmer's impending task. In his anguish, Kemp tries to off Grace (PatDiMeo), at one point changing his mind at the last second. "Maybe there's somegood in me after all," he muses. "No. Now I remember-I'm a coward." From there,the characters' strange interdependence accelerates, its groundwork laid throughthe reflections etched in Grace's precious old face. She silently serves asKemp's foil (she has maybe 10 lines in the show) and as a monument to theredemption that awaits. Then comes that sucky little twist-but it's short-lived,and Choularton acts through it with an even hand. Kemp commences to speak for themultitude of us, whose cellular anger sabotages our better natures until it'salmost too late. When last we see the chastened Kemp, he's waiting for someflowers to bloom. It's a sad but hope-filled scene, lit extremely well by JohnZamora. Set designer Chris Rynne's ironic wall treatments breathe that much morelife into the show. Some help near the end from Panych, and this good productionwould have been a great one.