This play, produced in a tiny theatre (whose stage seemed to be about 14 feet wide by eight feet deep), was explicitly billed as NOT a commentary, parody, inquisition, thesis, study, analysis, examination, or exploitation: "It's a play, stupid."
The production began in the dark, as a strobe-lit naked man ran around yelling obscenities, firing a gun, and smoking a cigarette, a sort of non-sequitur prolog to the rest of the evening.
The body of the play concerns the visit of a Young Boy/high-school journalist to the Smartest Man Alive, who is alas institutionalized - for good reason, it turns out. For he is in fact a raving madman, spewing random fragments of data from our cultural midden heap. In an amusing reversal, it develops at the end of the play that the real smartest man alive is the Young Boy, who trades places with the fake, who was really there as bait.
This farcical Twilight Zone episode included bravura performances as the Young Boy (D. Patrick Shearer) and the Smartest Man Alive (Christopher Yustin) and amusing ones as a slutty Pretty Nurse (Shay Gines), an officious and dim Big Guard (Gabriel Dunn), a slick but not-too-bright Editor (Dave Dwyer), and a preppy Student (Garrett Blair). Not to forget a bizarre turn as Common Knowledge by Christopher Bujold, who came on in short pants and Coke-bottle glasses and whacked the Smartest Man Alive with a piece of foam. What was that about?
The set (uncredited) reflected the presentational aspects of the script, with wrinkled white cloth covering the walls of the stage. The track lighting illuminated the actors, though it tended to fade upstage, and did no more. The manic preshow music set the mood exactly.
An older audience member said afterward, "I hate plays where everyone shouts all the time" and confessed not to understand what it was about. True, there was some shouting, though not all the time, and it was a hard show to pigeonhole. But it was still a lot of fun.
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Copyright 2001 John Chatterton