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Warren Gerds/Critic at Large: Review: ‘Objection! Disorder in the Court!’ a romp in Clintonville

Critic At Large

Phoenix Players

Phoenix Players cast for “Objection! Disorder in the Court!” (Phoenix Players)

CLINTONVILLE, Wis. (WFRV) – A play with two exclamation points it its title – two!! – has to have something going for it!!

First of all, with exclamation points – !!!!! – is how the two key actors unleash their roles.

One plays a woman who is falsely accused of three murders.

The other plays the prosecuting attorney, who has never lost a case and isn’t about to let facts stand in the way of him losing this one, either.

“Objection! Disorder in the Court!” is a dead-on comedy.

Phoenix Players community theater of Clintonville latched onto it to fan its embers of keeping theater going with an online, Zoom-like presentation.

The players are in different locations but seem to be in the same courtroom because of technical wizardry.

Their computers are not the same, though, so some of their images are fuzzier than others. And the sounds of their voices vary. But everybody leaps into this thing.

Playwright Brianna Dehn has a sense of the ridiculous, which is right up the alley for director Brandon Byng and troupe co-founder Mary-Beth Kuester.

In the story, Casey Licit was just passing through the town of Berserksville when she got arrested for three murders because she drives a vehicle the same color as the killer.

In her trial, Casey has an inept defending attorney, a come see come saw judge, the vainglorious prosecutor and a rogue’s gallery of witnesses who basically saw nothing.

The play is entirely stupid and good for a bundle of laughs at the same time.

When the prosecutor bribes the jury with cheap candy, an objection is raised and the judge lets it pass when he gets a roll of candy, too. And he munches the pieces one by one.

When a reference to Michael Jackson leads to bizarre testimony and a spiritual huzzah among all but Casey, Casey questions the relevance. The prosecutor asserts Michael Jackson “is always relevant,” and the inane aura continues.

Inane? One of the witnesses is a ferret. A real ferret. Inane? Yes, inane.

Action thrives on the energy level that Marie Newton and Michael Brown operate on as Casey Licit and prosecutor Mr. Scammerton, respectively. Excellent. They go a breakneck 90 in a 70 mile an hour zone. Their performances are exceptional. Amazing in a way.

Around them are players who dig into their colorful character roles. Most out-there is Heather Strong as the super gung-ho nutcase veteran, Archie Maniacal, who sees Canadians as evil for their diabolical weaponry such as “maple syrup cannons.”

There is something attracting about these online performances. Acting out a character solo in a room somewhere but somewhat strangely in a group, the players seem freed. It’s like a private side of their persona is let loose. Another illusion is the acting is one-on-one, and yet other people anywhere are seeing this.

This play spells C-O-M-E-D-Y R-E-L-I-E-F amid the frustrating capers of COVID-19.

One interesting sidelight is Pioneer Drama Service, which licenses plays. When the coronavirus shut down live theater a year ago, within weeks the company offered plays suitable for Zoom-like presentation along with tips on how to pull them off. Phoenix Players shows there is fun to be had.

“Objection! Disorder in the Court!” is playing for this weekend only.

***

Creative: Playwright – Brianna Dehn; director – Brandon Byng; producer – Mary-Beth Kuester

Cast:

Casey Licit – Marie Newton
Ms. Flops – Brittany Welch
Mr. Scammerton – Michael Brown
Bailiff – Jacob Newton
Judge Falter – Brandon Byng
Penny Fadson – Keneisha Richards

Glenda Chatter – Terry Minor
Clarissa Vendor – Mary-Beth Kuester
Puffle’s Handler / Arminta Contrary – Amy Steenbock
Albert Contrary / Hershel Hushed – Dennis Federwitz
Archie Maniacal – Heather Strong
Beulah Young – Maria Miller

Running time: One hour, 10 minutes

Remaining livestreamed access: 7 p.m. Feb. 20, 1 p.m. Feb. 21

Info: phoenixplayers.com

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