By David Walters
“Two psychics meet each other on the road– the one says to the other, ‘Well, you’re ok. How am I doing?'”
Ladies and Gentlemen, Welcome to the Jackie Harrod Show!
Jackie is, “the most famous guy this side of a mayonnaise jar,” and his show is at the top of the charts, seen by millions, loved by millions, and gets made at the cost of a pound of flesh from all of those involved.
It’s a 1950s live television talk/variety show, it’s two in the morning, and we’re in the writer’s room where a white guy, a black guy, and a Jew are doing their best to save their jobs, not kill each other, and be funny.
What Passes for Comedy, by G.D. Kimble, now playing at The Chain Theatre, is very well written. One of those plays where if you get distracted for one moment, you’ll miss a gem of a line. It’s rich with mile-a-minute banter, thoughtful, tells a story from the past, but resonates a truth that rings just as loud today.
It saddens me about our society when that happens, and I see the reality of how little progress we seem to have made in many areas, but it gladdens me to have seen a show that can make that connection so strongly through story and not didactic preaching. The play came out of the 2020 Chain Play Writing Lab, was scheduled to hit the boards then, but because of Covid, postponed until now.
Why it works so well, besides the firecracker dialogue, is each character was written with a depth that is a gift to any actor. And there are some good actors here that when given these gifts from a writer, not only hit the water strongly, but become a synchronized swim team, playing on, off, and with each other bringing a coordinated beauty to the evening that is a joy to watch. Put together great writing and good acting, and you’ve got a winner.
Set, costumes, and lighting add their magic to create an atmosphere of reality that blends seamlessly into the 50s television world. This is a love letter to television and its inner machinations about what it takes to get it on air.
Well worth your time.
The production features scenic design by E.A. Frank, costume design by Debbi Hobson, and lighting design by Michael Abrams. Greg Russ is the sound designer, with original music by Robert Pound, and Allie Goldhammer is the stage manager.
“Why do cows wear bells? Because their horns don’t work.”
As always, this is just one man’s opinion in a world filled with them.