Suffering from a Blue York state of mind? Brian Parks's smart-assed bagatelle of five satirical sketches will take the sting out of our being ostracized. In a mere 65 minutes, he manages to skewer everything from the holy family's values to the ownership society, giving you the same warm, fuzzy feeling that comes, say, with news that Dick Cheney's had another bout of shortness of breath. And while some of Parks's comic salvos land wide of their mark, director Paul Urcioli and a nimble cast move fast enough to avoid being hit by jokes that fall flat.
The first offering, a monologue by an elegant dinner guest who finds himself seated next to a wolverine, ends just when things start to get interesting, but its atmosphere of uncanny melancholia suggests Parks could hold an audience with much more than the promise of a punchline.
By comparison, the middle three plays feel a little sophomoric. Each relies on the same form of funny: The inhabitants of highly dignified and conventional situations behave in (mostly violent) ways that are utterly at odds with their context (Jesus and Mary are potty-mouthed, Dockers-clad office guys turn out to be scalpers, etc). But just when Parks is beginning to remind you of the smartest guy in your lit class who can't stop being clever, he rounds out the evening with a wee bit of comic genius. "On the Nature and Religion of the Hibernian Peoples" does to Irish stage clichés what This Is Spinal Tap did to the mystique of heavy metal. The plot? Let's just say there's a priest, a whore, and a missing leprechaun. You're likely to laugh harder during the last 15 minutes of Suspicious Package than you have at any point since the presidential campaign started.
By Brian Parks
Here Arts Center
145 Sixth Avenue
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