Reeling By Barry Kornhauser
Music by Michael Koerner
Directed by Christopher Niess
Starring Blaine Edwards, Kody Grassett and Nicolette Quintero
Theatre UCF, Orlando FL</strong>
“Where’s the color? Why isn’t there sound?” my frustrated seven year old once demanded upon seeing an “Our Gang” short. Where indeed? Those aspects of ordinary life did not exist in the early days of filming. But what did exist in this benighted era was great physical comedy, and sad faced Buster Keaton was the king. Authors Kornhauser and Koerner look back to Keaton’s genius, and adapt many of his physical gags to the modern stage, complete with a wheezy piano soundtrack to pass along any emoting clues we might miss. Our Hero (Edwards) is in love; he’s about to propose to his Beloved (Quintero). His day begins in an eccentric bedroom where his chairs is his sink, his bed the door, and a small train brings him his mail. When he meets his Ms. Beloved, she puts him off. It’s Hollywood for her, and love can always wait. Our Hero bumps into Big Man (Grassett) and it’s a comedy of errors and sight gags set in a world of bottomless trash cans, all emphasized by an on stage Foley Guy (Austin Davis). Ms. Beloved didn’t get the starring role, but when Our Hero stumbles on stage, he’s mistaken for the director, and soon he’s on his way to stardom, if only for a few minutes.
Act One of this cute show is fast paced and full of clever sight gags and fun interactions. The second act feels much longer; here Keystone Cop chases seem to go on endlessly and the gags feel more forced. Edward’s Hero maintains a cheerful, Red Skelton-like pleasantness; his male counterpart plays a more mustache-twirling sort of comic evilness; it’s the evil born of frustration and ineffective control of his own life rather than any genuine malice. Quintero maintains a heavenly sweetness; she’s made a bad life choice but it’s not irreversible. Fo’i Meleah plays a film diva with great physicality, and if you can arrange to keep the Foley Guy and his sidekick in your line of sight, they provide entertainment above and beyond the main production. Vandy Wood’s flexible set offers the right level of low budget filming atmosphere, and Director Niess does his best to keep a longish second act moving along. Cute, different, and funny in a way we so seldom see; this is a meritorious production that is more mime than conventional acting.
For more information on Theatre UCF visit http://www.theatre.ucf.edu