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Warren Gerds/Critic at Large: Review: ‘Words, Words, Words,’ ‘Last Two on Earth’ snappy

Critic At Large

Play by Play Theatre’s ‘One-Act Weekend,’ Part 1

A classic pose in “Words, Words, Words’ by Aaron Reynolds, from left, Elizabeth Jolly and Carolyn Silverberg. (Warren Gerds screenshot)

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – So much is “out there” these days in the real world that a couple of “out there” plays from a local company are welcome comic relief.

Play-by-Play Theatre of Green Bay has started its virtual “One-Act Weekend” with two smart/silly comedies.

“Words, Words, Words” and “Last Two on Earth” are offered today, Saturday, Nov. 21, by Play-by-Play Theatre for free with donations accepted.

The premise of each is deliciously preposterous – delivered snappily by experienced teams who have performed in a rich variety of local productions.

Each asks (sort of), Can you scratch your head and slap your knee at the same time?

Show image.

+ “Words, Words, Words” by David Ives

Featuring: Elizabeth Jolly, Aaron Reynolds, Carolyn Silverberg

Directed by: Carolyn Silverberg

Running time: 14 minutes

The joke is three chimpanzees that talk and type are toiling to write “Hamlet” to prove the hypothesis that, given time, a roomful of monkeys could do such a feat.

Clever playwright David Ives has chimps named Milton, Swift and Kafka dropping all sort of lines from those erudite folk as the three plot and question and quarrel and mix monkeyshines with mirth.

A major question from Kafka is, “What is hamlet?”

In a Zoom room. (Screenshot)

Director Carolyn Silverberg induces her players to adopt the mannerisms of chimpanzees. That includes her, as Swift, studiously examining the bottom of one of her feet as if it were that moment’s most important thing on Earth.

Wry sequences include Elizabeth Jolly, as Kafka, dutifully reading her day’s writing output: “K k k k k k k k k …. 20 lines of k, and then I went dry.”

Another laugher comes from Aaron Reyolds, as Milton, who offers a concise day’s regime of production that includes a recreation break that’s a kind of da-da-dump vaudeville-type joke.

You may LOL at the show, which is JPF – just plain funny on an elevated level.

 + “Last Two on Earth” by Mike Eserkaln

Featuring: Katie Schroeder and Eric D. Westphal, with Jimmy Clark as the voice on the radio

Directed by: Mike Eserkaln

Running time: 11 minutes

This one also is LOL/JPF, though more in the “regular world.”

In a room somewhere are a man and a woman, strangers to one another. On the radio comes word that everybody else has been vaporized.

What to do now?

Play chess.

And wonder – “What’s the point?” – about playing the game, about correcting grammar, about whether to have a baby and so on.

There was a Boom. (Screenshot)

One bit of byplay is an inside joke. About the radio announcement, the woman (Katie Schroeder) says, “Do you really believe that? We’re the only ones left?”  The man (Eric D. Westphal) answers, “The radio doesn’t lie.” Eric D. Westphal is a radio personality on WOGB.

The script by improv theater guy Mike Eserkaln, who directs with tongue in cheek, is like a tennis match with words with side trips just for laffs. A sample of the latter: The man takes eight chess moves at once. When the woman calls him on it, he allows her to also take eight straight moves. His next move: Checkmate. There IS a joke in there.

One joke about having a baby is the woman has never even been kissed, and now she wants to become “the mother of humanity.”

NEXT: “One-Act Weekend” continues with “Sure Thing” and “Identity Theft” Sunday, Nov. 22. Info: playbyplaytheatre.com.

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