Players' Ring Theater, Comedy Enlightened
For those with a taste for outrageous wacky comedy, the Players' Ring theater of Portsmouth is serving up a gourmet feast of unbridled humor that runs through January 22. The play, entitled COMEDY ENLIGHTENED is actually six fully realized comedic sketches that left me howling with laughter.
Stylistically akin to Monty Python and Saturday Night Live, this uproariously funny evening of theatrical hi-jinx is engineered by a bold and exuberant ensemble of players collectively known as "Darwin's Waiting Room." The complete ensemble reputedly hosts 50 members but COMEDY ENLIGHTENED is delivered by a jolly and completely irreverent cabal of comedians that number a little over a dozen. They are zany, they are bold, and they are insanely funny.
The play was written by company member Eric Doucet, however much of what happens on stage seems to have sprung from improvisational interpretation.
The evening opens with the M.C. being attacked by the cast as they promenade around the stage as prehistoric primates while the sound track from "2001, A Space Odyssey" blares from the stage speakers.
The cast's next incarnation is as anthropomorphic fish in a singles bar. This satirical jab at the dating scene mocks the ill fated trials of a woman in search of her future husband.
Ribald satire thrives as we encounter a hilarious send up of the legal profession that was very cleverly conceived at a tribal pow wow. A thorough skewering of the new spirituality cults follows and Act One closes with a thoroughly ridiculous and light hearted parody of Paul Newman's "Cool Hand Luke."
After a brief intermission Act Two opens with my very favorite comedic riff "Party of the Century." Set in a nursing home for nonagenarians, the characterization of these delightfully hilarious senior personages had me in laughing till tears flowed from my eyes. This was delirious dementia brilliantly rendered by deadpan facial expressions and spot-on comic timing. A barn burner of hilarity, I was literally laughing like I haven't laughed in 20 years. These folks were funny!
The Players' Ring Theater has been in active operation since 1992. The bare exposed bricks of this tiny 70-seat theater in an unlikely corner of Portsmouth's wharf reek of history. The low-ceilinged former marine workshop creaks with age and barely manages to squeeze a stage out of its tight confinement. Yet, within its humble architecture, theater thrives.
What sets the Players' Ring apart from other theaters is there democratic organizational structure and their zeal for producing new and non traditional work. New original work by local authors has been the mission of the Ring from its inception.
For tickets to COMEDY ENLIGHTENED or upcoming Ring productions, visit their website at playersring.org or call 603-436-8123. The Ring is committed to maintaining extremely low-ticket prices of just $12-$15. The Players’ Ring is located on 105 Marcy Street on the grounds of Prescott Park in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. To find it, use your GPS, as the theater has no marqee. Its signage has been severely weathered by salt air and Marcy Street is hidden on the waterfront, accessed by a couple of tight turns.
Parking is at a premium, but you can arrive early and park directly across the street at Mombo's Restaurant and enjoy a wonderful gourmet repast before the show.