I’ve truly never seen anything like it before. In fact, I’m not sure how I’m supposed to review it. YOU’RE WELCOME: A CYCLE OF BAD PLAYS playing this weekend at UC-CCM is so bad its impossible to know where to start. But that’s the point. And therefore, its kind of brilliant.
Director Brant Russell (the real one, not the one portrayed by the uber-talented Bartley Booz or a very funny cameo that Cincinnati theatre connoisseurs will truly appreciate) has assembled an ensemble of comedians to tackle this awful-on-purpose “script” and most of it works well. There’s no linear plot, just a series of scenes – sketches, I guess – that mock various types of theatre. I enjoyed myself a lot more than I probably should have.
The entire cast does a great job. Booz, Spencer Lackey, Devan Pruitt, Andrew Iannacci, Colleen Ladrick, Laura McCarthy, Alison Slitter, Arielle de Versterre, and Emily Walton make up the cast but they are joined by stage techs, stage manager Laura Stenger, and director Russell as they skewer theatre at large, as well as taking shots at themselves. Annie Grove’s curtain speech was just a taste of what we’re in for. And a handful of musical theatre students show up in the crew, while the fantastic Samantha Pollino choreographed the dance numbers.
It really is the best/worst thing I’ve ever seen.
There’s a parody of those high school don’t-do-drugs plays. There’s mockery of shows – and people – who take themselves too seriously. And there’s a hilarious sequence involving a broken fog machine. I did find the extended party scene – a lot of it improv, I suspect – to be too long and way too chaotic to catch all the gags. But there were still moments of guilty pleasure contained within.
I’ve struggled to describe this production and don’t want to give away any of the delightful surprises, gags, and bits that run through the short hour and twenty-minute or so runtime. You really should experience it for yourself. And if you hate, well, don’t say I didn’t warn you. And at least its free.
Luckily, I got the joke.
YOU’RE WELCOME: A CYCLE OF BAD PLAYS runs through Saturday night with performances tomorrow, Saturday afternoon, and Saturday evening. Tickets are free, but you will likely need to sign up for the waiting list at this point, which opens an hour before the show. Click here for more information.