Sunday, April 22, 2018

Bump and Lick

It may be a new land speed record. Mac and I crammed dinner and a play into two hours and 20 minutes.

We'd chosen My Noodle & Bar for speed and proximity (to the Firehouse Theater), only to have them let us down with the former.

Oh, our steamed dumplings showed up promptly enough, but it took forever for our entrees to arrive and by the time they did, we had about ten minutes to eat what we could, stuff the rest into boxes, pay our tabs and walk briskly around the corner to the theater, where we stashed our leftovers under the seats.

For those who claim that the problem with eating Asian food is that you're hungry an hour later, I can recommend this method of dining because it conveniently provides for a second meal an hour later, just when you're craving it most.

We were at the Firehouse Theatre for Nu Puppis' production of "One in Four," a new work that the group had created and first staged at the Capital Fringe Festival in D.C.  That it involves aliens is no surprise for a group whose mission is to cultivate the kind of culture required for life in space using performances on Earth.

Both Mac and I had been huge fans of Nu Puppis' satirical production of "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers" a few years back, so we were eager to see what fresh madness they'd come up with this time. Simple answer: more hilarity. "One in Four" concerned four aliens sent to earth to accomplish various tasks and somehow, some way, all ending up sharing an apartment in Portland with a perpetually locked front door.

Naturally, they're each trying to hide the fact that they're aliens and of course they're completely unaware that their new roommates are aliens, too. But, let's face it, who else totes around a bag of raw meat for which they're not sure of the purpose? Or carries around a stand-up cutout of Robin Williams? Or gets nipple rings? Oh, wait, never mind.

Presented under the Firehouse Fringe banner, the four young actors adeptly massaged the audience's funny bone with unexpected lines, physical humor, outrageous interactions and their standard greeting: a bump with the head on the other person's hand and then a full lick up the arm.

There were also inside theater jokes ("Hmm, how do I start this thing? I'm really bad at exposition.") and cheesy TV references (After pouring a bottle of water on a passed out guy's head, "I saw that on Full House! It should have worked." When a second bottle does nothing, "Damn you, Bob Saget!").

One of the group's strengths is the infinitely flexible body of Dixon Cashwell, who seems to be able to fold himself into the smallest possible configuration and bend in ways humans can't.

The aliens made observations on the human condition ("You can't be the only emotionally stunted person on the planet!") and cracked wise with millennial humor about multiple piercings and pink hair ("I just made a bunch of poor, hasty decisions, okay?").

Like naughty children, they used the unlikeliest word for a straight and a gay alien playing charades (She: "I never thought you'd get "vagina!'" He: "I don't normally.") and more winking inside jokes, like after a lovely two-woman rendition of "Danny Boy" ("Such a beautiful song...and in the public domain!").

And with enough exposure to each other trying to act human, there was the standard existentialist musings ("If I were smarter, this would be commentary.") while another character lay face down on the floor for the second time tonight.

The audience ate it up, laughing loud and long at almost every interaction, even when an actor was doing no more than yelling "Fuuuuuuck!" Shoot, I can hear that any time I want by just opening up my windows to the sounds of Jackson Ward.

Mac and I reserved our chortling for the truly funny bits, of which there were plenty, many of them so casually tossed off by the capable young cast that they became even more hilarious.

Since this is Sunday, here's my commentary. A great big "Yaas, queen!" for Nu Puppis, with leftover Thai afterward.

Enjoyed in record time, I might add.

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