BWW Reviews: BATHROOM HUMOR Flushes at Blank Canvas
Before the lights went up on Blank Canvas's production of "Bathroom Humor," the couple sitting to my right and I carried on an animated conversation about which they thought were their favorite Guest Artist Theatres in the area. A Guest Artist Theatre is "a theatre which has an agreement with Equity, whose productions normally include one or more Equity members, and/or who pay all or some their actors in a performance or supply their actors with a stipend."
The duo proposed none too fragile, whose "On The Line" was chosen as the best non-musical production of 2013, Ensemble, whose "The Iceman Cometh" was recognized for superior achievement, and Blank Canvas, whose "Twelve Angry Men" also was recognized for its superior achievement, as their choices. We were in for a treat, right? Wrong!
Blank Canvas mixes creative audience-delighting shows, such as "The Texas Chainsaw Musical," "Psych Beach Party," "Debbie Does Dallas," and "Hell Cab," with traditional shows such as "Godspell" and "Working," with exceptional stagings, such as "Next Fall" and "Of Mice and Men."
Usually, the creative and dedicated Pat Ciamacco can find some way to save even the silliest and slightest of scripts. Add blood to spatter the audience, cut off a few legs and arms and juggle them, there has to be a way. Unfortunately, he met his match in Billy Van Zandt and Jane Milmore's ineptly conceived, poorly written, plot-light farce, "Bathroom Humor."
Set in a bathroom in a house during a party, the play centers on bad bathroom humor, fat jokes, who cares gossip, urinary problems, affairs between the party goers, alcohol and drug trips, falling out and climbing in windows, hiding behind the shower curtain, penis enlargements, party games, and well . . .who cares.
If you are at all interested, the "story," (note the quotes around the word story) centers on Laura, who is married to Arthur, who is having an affair with Sandy, one of Arthur's employees. Sandy is attempting to get a raise from Andy, who is trying to have an affair with Babette. Stu is a degenerate whose goal is to consume as much drugs and alcohol as possible. Peg is overweight and has a negative self image. The Big El is a totally untalented Elvis impersonator who is the party's entertainment, and he falls for Peg. Peg's elderly father, who has bladder incontinence keeps coming into the bathroom, but never at the right time to use the toilet, and...you lost? Doesn't matter, nothing of much importance happens.
Oh, there is one hysterical scene when Peg can't zip up her overly tight jeans and winds up on the floor trying to put them on.
The publisher bills the play as recommended "for dinner theatre, community theatre, and summer stock audiences." Believe me, no self respecting theatre should be interested in producing this bottom-feeding schlock.
Farce is hard stuff to do, even well written. Believe me, "Bathroom Humor" is not well written. The cast tries hard, but there is little of value to work with. In order to protect the innocent, I'm not even going to list their names. During the run of the show, if I were in the cast, I'd wear a paper bag over my head, so no one would recognize me.
Ciamacco is usually capable of coming up with some way to save any lemon. In this case, even he couldn't create lemonade!
CAPSULE JUDGMENT: As we exited the theatre after "Bathroom Humor, my next-to-seat neighbor said, "Oh well, it is what it is, and I'm not sure why it was!" 'nuff said.
Blank Canvas's "Bathroom Humor" runs though May 24, 2014 in its west side theatre, 1305 West 78th Street, Suite 211, Cleveland. Get directions to the theatre on the website. (My GPS was of little help). Once you arrive at the site, go around the first building to find the entrance and then follow the signs to the second floor acting space. It's an adventurous battle. For tickets and directions go to www.blankcanvasthetre.com.