You can be sure that things will get pretty silly in dos chicas theater commune's newest offering, Stream of Consciousness: The Verge of Insanity. But this revue of short plays by local playwrights at least has some flow -- something that's generally missing from most showcases of shorts.
"The basic format for these things is usually short, blackout, change sets, new short," says dos chicas co-founder Bob Morgan. "I never cared for it. I always felt all those pauses in between the plays broke things up too much and took the audience out of the experience."
This dissatisfaction led Morgan and his troupe to experiment with different styles of presentation. "Last year we did dos chicas Sells Out," he says, "where we had little product placements within all the pieces, with fake commercials in between that I wrote."
This time out, the troupe has gotten even more experimental. "I kind of stole the idea of linking the plays together with a narrator and interruptions from those old Monty Python skits where Graham Chapman's character would walk out and stop the skits." Some of the transitions came quite naturally, according to Morgan. For example, one of the plays ends with a phone call and another just happened to start with one, so he sequenced them back to back, creating perhaps the first trans-playlet telephone conversation.
But the conceptual wackiness doesn't stop there. Not content with merely linking the plays together, the members of dos chicas spend the evening masquerading as a fictional performance troupe called the Snappy Pants Players. They are presided over, naturally, by a pompous martinet known as Captain Snappy Pants.
"When the audience arrives, we'll all be on stage, already in character as the Snappy Pants Players, doing our warm-ups and relaxation exercises," says DC cast member/co-founder Anne Zimmerman. The players are soon called together and savagely berated by their captain, and over the course of the evening they slowly revolt. And in true Monty Python fashion, the 42 characters are played by ten actors, giving them all a chance to "flex their acting chops," according to Morgan.
The plays themselves are breezy and irreverent. "A lot of times writers think they have to squeeze an entire play, with a beginning, middle and end, into a couple of minutes. And you just can't do that. I told all the writers to think 'sketch comedy' rather than 'play.' " The result is a lot of over-the-top humor, including Mr. Pillowhead, written by Infernal Bridegroom Productions member Paul Locklear, which blows the lid off the seamy backstage goings-on at a Christian puppet theater, and Rick Smith's The Making of a Cult Icon, in which Morgan stars as a director shooting a '70s necrophilia porno. Other highlights include the self-explanatory Ten-Second Tarantino and cast member Elizabeth Seabolt's family fumigation opus, Deadbolt.
"The hardest part was finding a way to make it all flow seamlessly," says Zimmerman. "It was really important that there be no dead space. The show is entertainment first and foremost. Nothing highfalutin." Not if Captain Snappy Pants has anything to say about it, anyway.