A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To Smattering Seven
Review By H.G.Welch
Take nine random genres, throw in the seven deadly sins, discount store mesh tubing, the most famous line from the movie Seven, add four random actors for five different parts and a director chosen at the last moment, then give the whole mess to a writer picked out of a hat and given twenty four hours to write a play. What you ended up with is Cone Man Running's Smattering Seven, a charity event for the Houston Food Bank that is equal parts theatrical anarchy and madcap comedy.
Every single one of the nine performances was literally less than a day old. Each play was barely ten minutes of short attention span theater, with mixed but hilarious results. Since the plays were written on the fly, most of the directors went for the lowest common denominators and a large portion of the humor was a stream of genital jokes or rapid fire racial humor. The fact that every single play had to use the line 'What's in the box' from the aforementioned movie just added to the sexual humor.
All the writers went with comedies, and the directors made due with the limited rehearsal times to create works that were quite often surreal in their comedy. Necessity is the mother of invention, and in this case Smattering necessitated a revolutionary Marxist Count Chocula, a musical number about a chainsaw suicide, a Shakespearean period piece interlaced with Chevy truck ads, a horny teen visited by his horrifically specific sexual fears, and a HR manager forced into competitive eating contests. The pieces were frequently self reverential and all had tongue placed firmly in cheek.
Several performers deserve special note, how Callina Situka kept a straight face in Lust for Life: the Musical while Helen Hurn and Whitney Zangarine hammed it up in one of the most hilarious ear piercing off key musical numbers is a reminder why straight men were more valued than clowns in the days of vaudeville. Matt Grabowski as the evil Cockblocker in Netflix and Chill was so over the top you found yourself rooting for the villain. Jeff Dornan's vein popping maniacal performance in Journey to the Center of the Psycho Sexual Beast won him the best actor award at the end, and looked almost stroke inducing.
Stephanie Kelsom in the same performance was laugh out loud funny as the S&M inspired neighbor with no inner voice. Cindy Lou Parker won best actress for playing the drunk target in I Had the Crime of My Life, she just fed off her other performers perfectly with more than a bit of inspired lunacy. Andreas Hunt in Remember the Ti-T.U.M.S. played the punching bag of the ludicrous sports comedy, so much so you felt sorry for his doomed character at the hands of rest of the moronic characters and their obliviousness.
With only a few hours to write each play, you had to forgive them for sacrificing deep thoughts for quick laughs. Kris Thompson's Journey to the Center of the Psycho Sexual Beast was able to capture in just ten minutes a demented tale of betrayal, mistaken identity and bad Yelp reviews. Ben Plopper's Remember the Ti-T.U.M.S. actually spanned years complete with Wayne's World styled transitions interspersed with large amounts of called out racial jokes and innuendo. Last but not least Nicholas Gerelick managed to crank out an actual musical in the extremely meta Lust for Life .
Much like the writers, the directors had little to work with during the smattering, with actors assigned at random and little preparation time. Leighza Walker was able to through together a split stage performance of Spat of the Shrew Sisters couple with fine performances by the four actresses. Bryan Kaplun in Journey kept the jokes fast and furious with a rapid fire pace. Aimee Small handed the ball to her performers in Lust for Life and just let the insanity of the script run its course.
Smattering Seven was an exercise in rapid fire joke telling. What it may have lacked in coherent stories, it made up for in knee slappers and guffaws. The rule of funny was the primary concern, and all the writers, directors and actors obeyed it to the letter. While many of the jokes were off color, they were undeniably hysterical. Several of the plays had to pause for sustained laugh breaks. If you are looking for a unique date night with topical and political incorrect humor, Smattering Eight is just a few months away.