What’s a great antidote for overcast days, long nights and bone-rattling cold? A good post-Valentine’s laugh, of course, and that’s exactly what The Waterworks Players’ current production provides. Small Doses, a sampling of 10-minute plays by Brett Hursey, is just what the doctor ordered.
Crisply directed by Hursey, these seven vignettes paint our all-too-human foolishness in broad comic strokes while also poking gentle fun at our frailties. Telegraphing a joke is almost as deadly as explaining one, so a few words about each play must suffice.
The evening opens with “Shakespeare Lives!”, featuring an over-the-top director (“avant-garde for the avant-Bard!”) pairing an auditioning actress with “Xocko”—a sock puppet. Next, the infertile couple in “Hanging Chad” has major communication issues, underscored by a Greek-like “Sperm” and “Egg” chorus. In “Tough Cookies,” a young woman asks her businesslike date what he’s expecting to “get” out of their dinner at a Chinese restaurant; his hopes “to operationalize a little return on the potentialities” guarantees that the fortune cookies will be tough, indeed. The bride-to-be in “Wedding Belles,” the last play before intermission, has to deal with the “complications” posed by her cross-dressing groom.
Act II begins with yet another problematic couple. Dr. Harvey (note the name) in “Splitting Hares” counsels Annie and her husband Ron, who’s afflicted with “Rabbititis,” and accessories to match. In “Leap Year,” three sisters, sibling rivalry, a black rotary phone, and a dreaded call from their mother whose birthday they’ve forgotten all make for delightful eavesdropping. “Speed Bumps,” the anchor piece, features an I Love Lucy-esque Dorie, who’s fixated on vegetables, and Max, who just wants to know: “Why is there a dead Shriner in our closet?”
Each cast member necessarily plays multiple roles, and each has at least one solo moment to shine. Tiffany Lewis is hilariously believable as egg-challenged Alice in “Hanging Chad”; Mike Montgomery is a great straight man in “Speed Bumps.” Greg Tsigaridas and Jeff Bardwell wear ears and gown well, respectively, in “Splitting Hares” and “Wedding Belles.” Jessica Stanley is comic frustration personified in “Tough Cookies.” Rhonda Brock-Servais is a wonderfully ditzy Midwestern wife—think Fargo without the wood chipper—in “Speed Bumps.” Mary Jo Stockton as narrator skillfully knits all seven plays together. Kudos as well to A. Moffatt Evans and Mike Montgomery (lighting design) and Linda Rolfe, Jennifer Foster and Beatrice Oyler (costumes and props).
Laughter is indeed the best medicine, especially in Small Doses, but with this caveat: it can be habit-forming. Small Doses runs this Friday and Saturday, February 20th and 21st, at 8 p.m. For ticket information, call 392-3452 or visit https://waterworksplayers.org/buy-tickets.