Great late late (morning) show

Wake Up, Slug! . . . With Chad and Barb

Written by Jeff Sproul
Directed by Jeremy Mather
Horse Trade Theatre Group / A Minutes Later Media Production
The Red Room
85 East Fourth Street (212/673-4182)
Equity showcase (closes Mar. 24)
Review by Elias Stimac

Wake Up, Slug! may have a misplaced comma in its title, but slugs, trolls, and couch potatoes of the world might very well celebrate the idea of their own morning talk show which airs late in the day. The slacker generation needs their own version of the "Today" show's Matt and Katie, "Good Morning, America" hosts Charlie Gibson and Diane Sawyer, and the titular TV talkers on "Live With Regis and Kelly." Through the vivid imagination of playwright Jeff Sproul and the Horse Trade Theatre Group, we get Chad and Barb ... and Action Gene!

The show is quick, the segments are short -- perfect for the viewer with limited attention span due to excessive partying or prolonged inactivity. Chad (played by Sproul) is a slick-talking, hair-obsessed smarmy spokesman -- that is, until he gets drugged out after an on-air experiment. Barb (Tracy Larson) is his perky, peppy, proper sidekick, who always keeps the conversation going and the mood light. Action Gene (Billy Cook) is their color commentator and taped segment reporter, going out to get the low-down on towels or leading a demonstration in mental domination.

All three actors were versatile and hilarious under the methodically manic direction of Jeremy Mather. All doubled and tripled in other roles, allowing them to break free from their main personas to create havoc. More great performances came from a group of characters only seen on the video screen. The best bit of the night is an advertisement paying humble homage to bread, but all the pieces offered their fair share of laughs. All in all, Wake Up, Slug! is a successful television spoof for the stage, and pretty much destined to spawn a sequel.

Box Score:

Writing: 2
Directing: 2
Acting: 2
Sets: 1
Costumes: 1
Lighting/Sound: 1

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Copyright 2003 Elias Stimac