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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, May 21, 2010 - Volume 38 Issue 21
Silverstein an interesting evening for adults
Arts & Entertainment
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Silverstein an interesting evening for adults

by Miryam Gordon - SGN A&E Writer

An Adult Evening of
Shel Silverstein
Theater Schmeater
Through June 12


Some people know Shel Silverstein from his best-selling kid's book, The Giving Tree. But his adult side is far more sinister and demented, and maybe a whole lot more fun. Ten of his short adult theater pieces are being presented at Theater Schmeater, directed by Julia Griffin. Some dig deeper than others into the dark human psyche, and some are funnier than others, but since they are all short, you can just wait a bit if one makes you uncomfortable.

One Tennis Shoe has Harvey (John Q. Smith) trying hard to tell his wife, Sylvia (Sara Coates), a terrible truth: She's turning into a bag lady! Sylvia finds it impossible to believe until he makes her reveal the contents of her bag and purse. Coates' turn from normal suburban housewife to potential bag lady is pretty slam-dunk.

In Bus Stop, a creepy guy (Michael D. Blum) walks up to a woman stranger (Lisa Viertel) and names her chest in various ways. Creepy, but she starts to look like she likes it - or does she?

An auctioneer (Ashley Bagwell) auctions off a woman (Alyssa Keene) in Going Once. She promises to do anything you want her to do, and the auctioneer will tell you in detail, if your imagination doesn't go far enough to help out.

Lisa (Megan Ahiers) has The Best Daddy (John Q. Smith), who leads her to a field to give her her 13th birthday present, but it's under a blanket. It's a pony. But why is it not moving? Well, he shot it because it bit him. Ahiers is pitch-perfect as the wide-eyed 13-year-old whose present is lying dead under a blanket. Then Smith, whose character is steadily drinking throughout, tells her it's "April fools." So what is really under the blanket? What comes next is even sicker.

The Lifeboat is Sinking, only it's really just a game that Jen (Lisa Viertel) is playing with her husband (Matthew Middleton) to get him to choose who he would save, his wife or his mother. Middleton gets more and more distressed at the game, as Viertel presses harder and harder for him to choose. You know who he has to choose, don't you? After all, his mother isn't there to play the game.

In Smile, Matthew Middleton is the guy who made up all those awful phrases we know - "Keep on Truckin'," "Right On," the smiley face symbol - and there's a team of baddies (Ashley Bagwell, Alyssa Keene and Sara Coates) who want to kill him for that. But do they have the right guy?

Marianne (Megan Ahiers) brings her clothes to the Wash and Dry, she thinks. It turns out that it's the "Watch and Dry," and the sign is misleading. Georgia (Lisa Viertel in her creepiest, most down and out characterization) contends that she has watched Marianne's clothes and has proof. Marianne wants to report her to the Better Business Bureau, but Georgia shows Marianne exactly what she has watched, and Marianne probably doesn't want anyone to know what Georgia has found! This one is truly demented. What is interesting is that Silverstein originally wrote Viertel's character as a man. Having a woman instead brings some interesting dimensions and less of a violent, confrontational message. Kudos to Griffin for making the change.

Thinking Up a New Name for the Act has only three words to use: "meat," "potatoes," and "and." It's a longish piece but an interesting way to use these words to tell a story. It's a visual, folks&.

Buy One, Get One Free has Keene and Ahiers hysterically making double entendres in funny verse as they market their wares to Bagwell. But he has figured out that they are actually charging double the regular price, so there's no "free" - or even a deal.

The last piece, Blind Willie and the Talking Dog, has John Q. Smith being the blind guy with Barney, the dog (Michael D. Blum). Barney is chafing because he's hungry and they're not getting any attention or donations to eat. Why doesn't Blind Willie take advantage of the fact that Barney can really talk? They could be millionaires! Will Barney leave Willie and go out on his own to earn fame and fortune? Does Blind Willie have a good reason why he doesn't showcase a talking dog to get money? This last one is almost a heart-tugger.

The production is artfully set on a bed of book pages, with stacks of books in tall, irregular columns, the brainstorm of designer Michael Mowery. He also designed a series of projections, some of them moving pictures or drawings, that enhance the set changes. Lights by Steve Cooper and elaborate costumes by Julia Evanovich augment the production.

This is a great evening for adults. It's a deep look inside a very interesting American writer. For more information, go to www.schmeater.org or call 206-324-5801.

Comments on reviews go to sgncritic@gmail.com.

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