March 7, 2011
Ten one-acts of great comedy
By James Famera
When it comes to one-act plays, comedy seems to work best. You put a couple of outrageous characters on stage, have them trade barbs with one another for about 10 minutes, and watch the hilarity ensue. It's quick. It's simple. it's hilarious.
The Victory Theatre in Burbank has adapted to this formula quite well with "Rewind," 10 hilarious one-act plays that are all set in a video store. Through the course of the show, we're treated to everything from an unlikely in-store birth where the newborn flat out disappears, to a wonderfully choreographed song-and-dance number between the video store clerk and his customers. You may never have thought video stores were funny before, but "Rewind" proves that even something as commonplace as the local Blockbuster is fodder for really great comedy.
"I Wouldn't Mind Seeing This Again," opened the show, and was a wonderful little take on how we grow attached to our favorite movies, even if others don't. Along the way we meet Lindsay (a fantastic Jaime Puckett) who just happens to share the same first name of the star of her favorite film, the 2004 comedy "Mean Girls" starring Lindsay Lohan. In the film, Lohan is seduced by a cliquish group of ditzy, yet popular, high school girls, and Puckett did a great "mean girl" impression while trying to convince her friend why the movie needed to be rented. "It's only the best movie made about high school, duh," she said. Indeed "Mean Girls" was a good movie, but Lindsay's over-the-top appraisal probably didn't do the movie much justice. Still, Puckett's portrayal of a hair-twisting, gum-chewing popular girl was very, very funny.
Other standout performances included Frank Ensenberger and Trey Thompson as two hipster production assistants who stumble into the video store and create all kinds of chaos in "Death & Popcorn". They're looking for an obscure, artsy-type movie for their boss, who's seemingly as pretentious and full of himself as they appear to be, and immediately start judging everything, and everyone, around them. "This place feels like an Ed Hardy shirt. It's like, really, still?", Ensenberger says to the clerk, played by Mary Burkin, before getting some of the loudest laughs of the night. Ensenberger and Thompson had a wonderful oddness on stage, and despite their character's obvious pretentions, both actors were very comfortable in their roles.
The show closed with "Wandering Willows," a beautifully choreographed song-and-dance number about a video store clerk's love for a sappy movie musical, despite his co-worker's penchant for shoot 'em up action movies. "Wandering Willows" is the name of the movie Billy, played by Ben Ryan, is so infatuated with that he often breaks out into an actual dance number from the film.
Allison Bibicoff choreographed and directed the play and some of the dance moves were about as flawless as any I've seen on stage. It was quite impressive to see a bunch of stage actors perform such complicated dance moves with such skill, and that says a lot, seeing that "Rewind" was the furthest thing from a musical. "Wandering Willows" was an unexpected close to an enjoyable night of live comedy.
That being said, if a night of laughs, with a dance number thrown in for kicks, is what you're after, than you can't miss with "Rewind".
James Famera is a freelance arts critic based in Los Angeles.
When: Final performances are at 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday
Where: The Victory Theatre Center, 3326 W. Victory Blvd., Burbank
Contact: (800) 838-3006, or visit www.skypilottheatre.com