Cut to the Chase Plays Physical Comedy for Laughs


Cut to the Chase—a vaudeville-style production by the troupe Parallel Exit that’s replete with mimes, music, and mishaps—reminds us that physical comedy can actually be, well, comic. The narrative, such as it is, revolves around a blushing romance between the clown-like Dilly (Laura Dillman) and Kasper (Ryan Kasprzak). Until they finally smooch, she weathers seduction attempts by Roland Derek (Derek Roland), a bony lothario who puts the “ew” in “lewd”; meanwhile, Kasper endures the advances of a diva in a peacock cape (Juliet Jeske). More than plot, the show is rich with sensory impressions: Dancers tap furiously in half-lighting as their shadows twist and shift behind them; a percussionist drums on balloons of different sizes and colors. Joel Jeske plays the Great Jeske, a mercurial master of ceremonies with an elastic face and imperious gaze. Though frustrated by his inability to control his cast—who unfailingly yammer and yelp just when he requires silence—the Great Jeske easily manages to enchant us. In the midst of plunking a grim piano progression, for example, he regards us with increasingly absurd expressions—pleading eyes, jiggling lips—and, like infants watching baubles turn in the wind, we giggle uncontrollably. If Jeske had truly managed to transmute us into children, we would never have wanted to leave. But having graduated elementary school, we might complain that Cut to the Chase, despite its title, feels a bit long. And its antics distract from the thought-provoking themes: the nature of sound and silence, the needs to control and rebel. Most of the time, though, we’re laughing too hard to mind.

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