By Coneman Running
By H.G. Welch
So the play I was asked to review was Insomnia Cafe, a one act show centered around the TV show Friends. One problem, I have never actually seen a single episode of Friends. I knew who the actors were on the show, and I kind of knew the characters they played, but that was it. So challenge accepted, I picked up my pen and paper and started taking notes as the play went on. As I watched, I realized just how much I hate the Big Bang Theory.
Play opens with a kidnapping. As the curtains metaphorically rise, Travis Ammons is dragging a tazed Brian Chambers into the kidnapper's home and tying him to a chair. Ammons, playing the unnamed antagonist, explains Chambers is going to be Chandler, because Ammons can't impersonate the character. Jenna Morris plays an unnamed woman Ammons has also kidnapped, who is being forced to play all the female characters of the TV show. Hilarity ensues as Ammons tries to brainwash Chambers into thinking he's actually the TV character. The play is well directed, with no lag time or miscues. The dialogue is rapid fire, and features one of the best montages in a play I've seen.
The play is funny, that cannot be denied. I didn't get even half of the jokes, but the audience around me was in stitches. I had no idea who Gunther was, or the mannerisms of all the characters. But the three actors seemed to channel them perfectly as everyone watching ate up the performance. Even when it turned a bit dark, as kidnapping comedies tend to do, the humor was still kept going at a decent pace. Ammons was sinister as the villain, and when the tables turned you really didn't feel sorry for him at all. Morris was the most sympathetic of the performers, her character was clearly suffering from Stockholm Syndrome and her role was her trying to shake it off. Chambers was the primary focus of the show, as we tried to watch him resist in the face of torture. It is his mental breakdown that drives the performance.
The play obviously is an homage to the TV show. It is highly recommended for people who are fans of the show. Others who never watched, like me, will be completely lost at times. The play overlaps its shout outs with Big Bang Theory, as that is the kidnapped victim's favorite show. That is where the play reinforced my hatred of the sitcom, as I find Big Bang Theory to be a geek minstrel show. It's a group of socially ill adjusted smart people making crass remarks that in real life would make them viewed as snobbish unpleasant jackasses. Insomnia Cafe cements this point by pointing out sitcoms are often meant to mock the characters of the sitcom, as much as societal norms allow. There wasn't anything wrong with the play, but the TV it was mocking is well worthy of derision.
Insomina Cafe is playing at the Obsidian Theatre on White Oak Drive. Play starts at 8 pm, with two shows remaining this weekend. It was written by Breanna Bietz and directed by Lex Laas. Tickets are $18