Three Times the Theater

Anyone for a Classy Threesome? is an evening of three one-acts presented by Just Ask Productions. The three pieces are linked together via the fact that each incorporates some aspect of another medium, such as radio or film. These original works mix hilarious madcap humor with important and thought-provoking ideas. Each work is unique and there is at least one piece in the evening’s bill that will be suited to any type of theatergoer. The first piece, “Spinner Spirits Presents Showpiece Theater Starring Rex McDeevit,” is about a 1950s radio station and the individuals who work there. We see the radio players deal with issues as diverse as the dawn of television and racial discrimination. This short play is extremely accessible and has the kind of humor that is able to operate on multiple levels at the same time. The performers pull the piece off with comedy and charm. All of the actors do a superb job of playing the radio-actors while simultaneously portraying those actors playing their on-air alter egos. The play is a delightful short that shows off both the performers' virtuosity (one actor even fulfills the role of foley artist) and the wit of the writer, P. Case Aiken III. It captures the spirit of a time gone by, both its positive innocence and its negative ignorance. The use of little details, like old-time microphones and era-appropriate radio adverts, complete a consistent and well-rounded snapshot of a bygone moment.

The second play, “1,001 Peorian Nights,” is the weakest of the three. It focuses on a young man, Shawn, attempting to seduce a bookish Jordanian girl named Shari. When he invites her over, he is disappointed to learn that rather than wishing to engage in amorous affairs she instead wants to watch an Arabic silent film. The vignette is punctuated with funny moments, but it is the least compelling material in the evening's entertainment. The performers play youthful personas well, but are often difficult to hear. The accompanying film is enjoyable, and adds a clever touch to the piece. It is easy to tell why the scene’s protagonist becomes so easily addicted to the episodic film; it is well-paced and a subtle reflection of the world in which it is being viewed.

The third piece, entitled “Song Five, Circle Two,” is starkly different in tone from the other pieces. It is an abstract work, centering on sensual subject matter. The lead performer, Leilani Drakeford, is brilliant in her recitations of the imagistic text. The work is a kind of poetry in its own right, both in text and physicality. The performers from the preceding plays return to play a mysterious chorus in this final scene, which adds a fitting touch to the metatheatric experimental piece. The lighting accentuates the mood in each moment beautifully. The piece is at times eerie, melancholy, sexy, humorous, and moving, despite being somewhat hard to follow. It is a perfect cap to an enlightening night of theater.

Just Ask Productions has created a fine triumvirate of plays for their "classy threesome." They keep the audience engaged, entertained, and asking for more.

Click for print friendly PDF version of this blog post