The Running With Scissors troupe recently brought its newest work, An Alien Home Companion & The Titanic Comedy Hour!, to the AllWays Lounge and Theatre.
In some ways, the Scissors troupe is like an updated, gender-bending version of the Marx Brothers. If you're a fan — and I most certainly am — you don't get your enjoyment from the character portrayed so much as from watching the Brother pretending to be the character — or barely pretending. There's always a wink to the audience that forms part of the joke. For instance, when Groucho enters as big game hunter Captain Spaulding, the whole idea is ridiculous, but we love it all the more because it's Groucho.
Scissors also specializes in gross humor. The players make the unacceptable acceptable by their nonchalance. They also often base their scripts on popular movies (in this case, Alien and James Cameron's Titanic). Comedy Hour boasts the usual poised cast and torrents of obscenities. The audience loved it and I was amused, but I also had some reservations.
The show is meant to be a radio broadcast in front of a studio audience. Unfortunately, there's been a spate of shows with this premise and it has a second-hand feel. That goes against the element of surprise that usually characterizes Scissors' work. It also limits the scope of the visual shenanigans. We know someone will be in charge of sound effects and will have, among other things, a pair of shoes to create the sound of footsteps. Scissors adds exaggerated fart noises and even takes that an unprintable step further. But for all the group's anarchic high spirits, they seemed trapped by the premise.
The Comedy Hour also is theoretically being broadcast on public radio. It includes offbeat phone calls for a pledge drive. But the corny commercials do little more than break up the narrative.
Unfortunately, double entendre — or single entendre — are at times inserted as a substitute for wit. Whenever two characters disagree about the size of something like a a jewel or a boat the clear implication is male private parts. No matter how well done, there's only so much of this one can take. The same can be said for bathroom humor and forced sexual jokes.
The cast includes Jack Long, Brian Peterson, Kyle Daigrepont, Lisa Picone, Dorian Rush and Richard Read, who usually stays behind the scenes. The script was written by Jack Long with additions by Read and Rush.
Running With Scissors doesn't merely push the envelope here, they rip it to shreds. The group is unique and talented, but this show is a bit messy. Still, I look forward to their next original creation. — Dalt Wonk