Next Show: Festival of Shorts
Starring Heather Burns, Tony Dingman, Abigail Bailey Maupin, Gregory Maupin, Kristie Rolape and Kyle Ware. Written by Le Petomane Theatre Ensemble; presented at the Rudyard Kipling through Oct. 1. For tickets or more info, call 636-1311 or visit www.lepetomane.org.
They’re baaaaaack. Yes, Le Petomane Theatre Ensemble’s fourth season opened last week with “Next Show” — and all of the screwball passion that defines this company.
The production is not really a show, per se, but five original sketches. Subtitled a “Festival of Shorts,” it includes the story of a bee’s journey, combined with a Greek chorus; a scene in a barbershop; a physical routine that outlines a somewhat romantic encounter(s); a radio show, with wonderful noisemaking devices; and “Party of One,” a spoof of one-woman shows and singledom.
The evening gets off to a quick start with Kristie Rolape persuasively portraying a bee with allergies that threaten to undermine her zing. But her sniffles don’t get her down; this smart bee buzzes around with a thermos of chicken noodle soup. Ware is also stunning as a single woman complaining of loneliness. Here she throws her whole body and voice into the weary character. She expresses her woes through several avenues, including a hilarious interpretive dance.
In another piece, Gregory Maupin, alone onstage, finds the tail end of a red rope. He pulls it. A force on the other end pulls back. These gestures lead him into interesting romantic entanglements. Here, the physical comedy, which Maupin does so well, harks back to the hysterical skits on “Your Show of Shows,” the 1950s TV comedy series with Sid Caesar and Imogene Coca.
The only obvious downside Thursday evening was when some troupe members were a bit rusty with their lines, slowing the momentum.
The program is interactive, listing not only the five shows but doubling as a ballot on which audience members can vote for the short they would like to see developed into a longer play for performance before the end of the year.
We highly recommend that you get to the polls, rain or shine.