Arguments for the death penalty

Absurdly Yours

By Bob Flicker
Directed by Robert Kreis and Jamie Marrs
The Thirteenth Street Repertory Company
Nonunion production (closes March 30th)
Review by Scott Vogel

The opening scene of Absurdly Yours takes place in the execution chamber of a maximum-security prison. Theresa (Annie Clay), a talented electrician, is about to be put to death for murdering her husband's lover, a feat she accomplished, improbably, by hot-wiring the poor woman's diaphragm. Theresa closes her eyes, the switch on the electric chair is pulled, and nothing happens. Unfortunately, there is a short-circuit in the chair. Also unfortunately, there seems to be a short-circuit in Theresa, who immediately volunteers to fix the chair, even though just a moment earlier she's begged the warden (Steve Jones) not to have her execution broadcast on national television. But character inconsistencies are the least of this play's transgressions.

Press materials describe Absurdly Yours as a "daring comedy." Just a few scenes into the play, it becomes obvious that the choice of adjectives is indisputable: few comedies would dare to assault an audience with such derivative and desperately unfunny material. The script, a set of 16 sketches connected by only the thinnest of narrative threads, purports to be a comic meditation on such exhausted topics as the religious right, abortion, and, as above, the death penalty. Playwright Bob Flicker (with a name like the audience had reason to expect much more, no?) trots out characters whom cliche-hunters should kill and kill again until every last one of them is extinct. The Jaysus-crazed evangelist, for example, here called the Reverend Billy Bo Peet, would be a wholesale embarrassment were he not so irredeemably tired. The same goes for Percy Peapenny III (Bart Shattuck) and Zelda Zadkheimer (Rebekah Brown), two of the million or so nasal-voiced, monotone-speaking stage nerds currently in existence (though Percy's Dr. Who suspenders were a nice touch). Armand Samos was energetic as the studly friend (note the telegraphic name - Jock Armstrong) who sets the pair up so he can spend some quality time with an ignorant floozy he's just met, Heddy La Poisson (Deborah DeCarlo). When Jock announces that he makes brassieres, there is barely time to realize that even the hokiest comedians abandoned this kind of shtick years ago, before Hildy says....

Wait, here's a quiz to test your knowledge of motheaten humor. What, in this kind of comedy, is Heddy most likely to say when she hears Jock makes brassieres? (For right answer, see below.)

The production's two directors were not given an easy task here, but somehow they managed to compound the script's problems through confusing staging. The play calls for a number of split-scenes and flashbacks, for instance, but neither the blocking nor the acting ever made such transitions clear. Adding to the confusion, furthermore, was a loud and distracting conversation apparently being held in the lighting booth during much of the show. This would normally be an unpardonable offense; however, since the conversation above the stage was of infinitely greater interest than the conversation on the stage, the perpetrators may deserve clemency in this case.

Apart from that touch of absurdity, the play would appear to be grossly mistitled.

(Also featuring the amusing Kirstin Miani as a pregnant Little Red Riding Hood trying to decide whether to abort the Big Bad Wolf's baby, and understudy Daniel Asher in several smaller roles.)


Jock: My father's factory. I'm third generation in the business. Maybe you've heard of the firm, the Three Bs. Better Bosoms Brassieres. Heddy: I'm sure I haven't. I don't wear them..............................

Box Score:

Writing: 0

Directing: 1

Acting: 1

Set: 1

Costumes: 1

Lighting/Sound: 1

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Copyright 1998 Scott Vogel