In an awkward though occasionally rewarding abridged rendering of "An Adult Evening of Shel Silverstein," the five-member ensemble's uneven musical talents undermine Silverstein's quirky sense of satire. Helmer Dan Bonnell has staged seven Silverstein vignettes, underscoring both the humor and the basic cruelty inherent within most human interaction. But beyond issues of musical proficiency, what's lacking is a clear sense of resolution to the scene work.

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Shel Silverstein Uncensored!

(Odyssey Theater Ensemble, 99 seats; $20 top)

An Odyssey Theater Ensemble presentation of a comedy review in one act by Shel Silverstein. Directed by Dan Bonnell. Sets, Charles Erven; costumes, Gelareh Khalioun; lighting, Jeremy Pivnick; stage manager, Julianne Figueroa. Opened June 7, 2008. Reviewed June 8. Runs through Aug. 10. Running time: 1 HOUR, 20 MIN.

Ensemble: Sarah Brooke, Martha Gehman, Colleen Kane, James MacDonald, Tony Pasqualini, Daniel Zacapa.

By JULIO MARTINEZ

In an awkward though occasionally rewarding abridged rendering of “An Adult Evening of Shel Silverstein,” the five-member ensemble’s uneven musical talents undermine Silverstein’s quirky sense of satire. Helmer Dan Bonnell has staged seven Silverstein vignettes, underscoring both the humor and the basic cruelty inherent within most human interaction. But beyond issues of musical proficiency, what’s lacking is a clear sense of resolution to the scene work.

Quite often, the requisite blackout to a vignette is ill timed, shortchanging or obliterating the scene’s punchline. In “Going Once,” James MacDonald impresses as a fast-talking “slave” auctioneer, hawking the wares of a very willing Martha Gehman, who manically demonstrates the assets and skills being extolled by MacDonald. Unfortunately, a too-early blackout guillotines Gehman’s all-important final line to the scene.

A lack of scenic coordination plagues such playlets as “Bus Stop,” a simplistic game of sexual one-upmanship between Sarah Brooke and Daniel Zacapa, and “Life Boat,” Silverstein’s macabre take on a standard mother-in-law joke, featuring Gehman and MacDonald.

Despite the erratic scene changes, one of the more successful pairings, “One Tennis Shoe,” features Brooke and Zacapa as an upscale couple going through a mano a mano intervention in a restaurant. Zacapa offers a winning portrayal of an emotionally distraught bubby who is positive his wife is turning into a compulsive bag lady. Brooke is properly haughty at the suggestion even as she reveals a bowl of cooked oatmeal she co-opted from a restaurant and hid in her oversized purse.

Another winning outing is “Wash and Dry,” featuring Tony Pasqualini as a laundry manager with an evolved concept of customer service who reduces customer Colleen Kane to a heaping mass of exposed nerve endings. This pair also score in “Best Daddy,” featuring a constantly upbeat Pasqualini conducting a monstrous exercise in just how much abuse and terror a dad can inflict on his child (Kane) before revealing her birthday present.

The ensemble members accompany themselves with no positive effect; Silverstein’s songs need to be performed well to work as satire. Out-of-tune guitars and wind instruments are no complement to weak vocals.

Shel Silverstein Uncensored!

Odyssey Theater Ensemble, 99 seats; $20 top

Production

An Odyssey Theater Ensemble presentation of a comedy review in one act by Shel Silverstein. Directed by Dan Bonnell. Sets, Charles Erven; costumes, Gelareh Khalioun; lighting, Jeremy Pivnick; stage manager, Julianne Figueroa. Opened June 7, 2008. Reviewed June 8. Runs through Aug. 10. Running time: 1 HOUR, 20 MIN.

Cast

Ensemble: Sarah Brooke, Martha Gehman, Colleen Kane, James MacDonald, Tony Pasqualini, Daniel Zacapa.

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