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BWW Review: SOME MIRTH AND A LITTLE MATTER at Pumphouse Players Zooms Through Fun Jokes, Quirky Characters, and A Little Technical Trouble

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SOME MIRTH AND A LITTLE MATTER at Pumphouse Players Zooms Through Fun Jokes, Quirky Characters, and A Little Technical Trouble

BWW Review: SOME MIRTH AND A LITTLE MATTER at Pumphouse Players Zooms Through Fun Jokes, Quirky Characters, and A Little Technical TroubleThe resilience of the Theatre is an incredible thing. While hundreds of thousands of ghost lights haunt us around the world, we still find ways to create art and do what we love. The Pumphouse Player's production of Laura King's Some Mirth and a Little Matter is an excellent example of this resilience and commitment to the art. While dodging and weaving through technical issues, grappling with a script in progress, and doing their best to connect across a screen, Some Mirth and a Little Matter was a fun and lively show that sparked some much need joy.

At this point of the pandemic we're all keenly aware of how amusing it can be yelling at each other that mics are off, videos aren't turned on, and the camera is facing the wrong way. The perils of Zoom are well known and much put up with. Some Mirth and a Little Matter was no exception to these pitfalls of modern-day Zoom Theatre and had its fair share of funny, awkward, and confusing technical difficulties.

One of the most notable of these Zoom call pitfalls in the show was the lack of consistency. Some actor's noses were missing because of poor lighting, some had lines that sounded like they were underwater, and some actors changed video orientation with every entrance and exit their character had.

A few actors had personal profile pictures uploaded but most had none so occasionally you would get a flash of a cute selfie as the character left the scene. Watching all these uniquely Zoom problems gave you a deep sense for how unprecedented of a time we live in now and how much effort and passion went into this particular production.

BWW Review: SOME MIRTH AND A LITTLE MATTER at Pumphouse Players Zooms Through Fun Jokes, Quirky Characters, and A Little Technical Trouble

There are some Zoom Theatre "best practices," that I think future Zoom Theatre shows, including future ones at Pumphouse Players, could benefit from.

First, without character names at the bottom it was hard to keep up with who was who. Some Mirth and a Little Matter had a rather large cast and I found myself spending a lot of time remembering who was who and what their relationships was.

Another "best practice" is finding a way to effectively incorporate important movement. Without being able to be in the same room with each other, important action can get lost on the screen. For example, Some Mirth and a Little Matter had a few kissing scenes and a fight scene but without a strong decision and commitment on to how to present that action, the overall effective was lost.

Pumphouse Players did get one Zoom Theatre trope totally right - their editing style was easy and enjoyable to watch. Clean, quick, and without long, awkward pauses, the way Some Mirth and a Little Matter flowed was easy to follow and without any overwhelmingly stagnant moments.

The spirit of an actor is nearly impossible to break - not even a global pandemic could stop this troupe from finding a way to do what they love. The lovers were delightful, the ensemble was quick on its feet, and the villains and foils were just the right shades to help everyone shine.

Between Aaron Brasher's endearing melodramatics, Ashley Elliott's tough-as-nails-sweet-as-sugar demeanor, Kelley Gray's hot as hell wittiness, and Scott Starkweather's charming devil's advocate attitude the four lovers proved a raucous and engaging quartet.BWW Review: SOME MIRTH AND A LITTLE MATTER at Pumphouse Players Zooms Through Fun Jokes, Quirky Characters, and A Little Technical Trouble

The backstage ensemble excellently picked up queues and kept the pacing at a brisk and engaging trot. While they could have easily sat back and just listened for their queues, they instead listened attentively and reacted accordingly adding a deeper level to the whole performance.

The villains, foils, old men, and horny friends played their parts with the same gusto as one would hope from such fun characters. Each in their part made strong choices, committed to them, and did their best to amuse their audience rather than bemuse their scene partners.

The playwright Laura King has the majority of her previous experience writing plays for young audiences. Many of her works have been published through the well-known publisher YouthPLAYS. Her past experience shines through here in an odd way - like a jack-o-lantern whose face isn't cut where you can see the candle glowing inside.

There are classic elements of plays for young audiences in Some Mirth and a Little Matter such as obvious references, on the nose jokes, and predictable dialogue and relationships. Mix those elements up with adult themes such as sexual assault, alcoholism, and workplace sexism and you find yourself doing more than one double take to be sure you heard that right.

A good example of this is the sexual assault scene. What was written with the intent to be an awkward kiss between an oblivious buffoon and an unsuspecting ingénue became a violent beating of a sexual predator who has physically assaulted a woman by forcefully kissing her without consent. King's play doesn't yet know what it wants to be and awkward, rushed, and even downright uncomfortable scenes are the result.

BWW Review: SOME MIRTH AND A LITTLE MATTER at Pumphouse Players Zooms Through Fun Jokes, Quirky Characters, and A Little Technical Trouble

One of the main reasons people love theatre is that it reminds us that we are all human and we're all in this crazy thing called Life together. Watching this uniquely 2020 Zoom Theatre experience made me feel as if I was back in rehearsal among friends and working on doing something great together. Until we can be together again, this Zoom Theatre will do as we leave the ghost lights on just a little longer.


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From This Author Ella Embry