The setup suggests Samuel Beckett but the style comes courtesy of Monty Python in “Do You Come Here Often?,” a free-style, oddball entertainment created by a U.K. comic troupe known as the Right Size. Actually, invoking such paragons of absurdism sets the bar rather too high for this slight bit of whimsy. Audiences’ affection for the show will depend on their attitude toward a brand of comedy probably best described as gleeful inanity.
Dodger Theatricals is a backer of the show’s brief run at P.S. 122 in the East Village, and with strong reviews it would likely transfer to a commercial Off Broadway run. Prospects are iffy; at the reviewed performance, the audience seemed to be evenly divided between the fitfully hysterical and the generally bored.
The surreal setup finds two strangers, a twitty type in tie and tails named David Seymore (Hamish McColl) and a working-class bloke called Kevin Kevin (Sean Foley), mysteriously transported to a private bathroom, decked out in suburban pastels, from which they are unable to escape. For the next hour and 15 minutes, which represents more than two decades, they endeavor to discover what “dark forces” have thus entrapped them, and amuse themselves as best they can with silly games and gags.
Make that very silly. To describe their antics in plain prose would rob them of such loopy charms as they possess. The agile pair leap from puns to slapstick to audience tormenting with breathless vitality, discarding comic routines as carelessly as they begin them. They cavort with rubber duckys and play spot-the-spot (on the entirely spotted linoleum floor), reminisce dreamily about their last moments in the real world, plot less-than-ingenious ways to escape, and alternately bond and feud.
McColl and Foley, who wrote the show with director Jozef Houben, are a lively pair of performers. McColl has an endearingly twee manner and fantastically round blue eyes that all but roll out of his head as he speaks in hushed tones of their strange predicament. His dandified archness is in savory contrast to Foley’s subdued matter-of-factness.
But to this viewer, the silliness soon became strained; the routines too often have a slapdash, improv-class feeling. They lack the meticulous, inspired looniness of Monty Python sketches, which draw laughs by positing absurd behavior in the most mundane surroundings and coming from seemingly sensible types. The silliness here is untethered to anything and mostly without payoff; it’s inanity for its own sake.
Then again, it’s just the kind of humor that sends some people into hysterics; one man sits in poker-faced perplexity while his date dissolves in helpless fits of giggles.