Review: POPCORN FALLS at Penguin Rep

Penguin Rep Opens Its 45th Season With a WInner!

By: May. 07, 2023
Review: POPCORN FALLS at Penguin Rep
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"I would appreciate it if you'd make like a banana... and vamoose." Yep. For the first few minutes of "Popcorn Falls," there were quite a few little eye-rollers. At first, I thought, this is just about the silliest thing I've ever seen. And it just kept getting sillier...and sillier. But soon, the eye-rolls were replaced by chuckles, and the chuckles by laughs and the laughs by belly laughs. And soon you find yourself howling with laughter, with a joyful smile stuck on your face, that won't go away.

The plot is vaguely reminiscent of "Urinetown" - small town, no water, a monolithic company behind it, a "Snidely Whiplash-esque" evil villain. Loosely, the play opens with a new dam cutting off the water supply to town's only tourist draw: the eponymous "Popcorn Falls." Consequently, tourism and business went vamoose.

Review: POPCORN FALLS at Penguin Rep The newly elected mayor, Ted Trundle (played by the play's playwright James Hindman), is praying for the county Budget Planning Committee to save them, but the committee decides cut up the town instead and absorb it into the county. build a sewage treatment plant in its place.

For some reason, his only hope, a grant earmarked by the county arts council is intended for the local theater - which doesn't exist. So, predictably, the mayor and his handyman/custodian, Joe, conclude the only way to save the town is to build a theater and put on a play - in a week! Without a play, or theater, or sets, or costumes, yada yada yada... despite all, the earnest residents or "kernals" of Popcorn Falls rise to the challenge.

But the plot really isn't the point.

As the story navigates a cast of local town crazies and eccentrics, Mr. Hindman and Mr. Souhrada put taking on over twenty roles, male, female, feline, canine - you get the ideal - think "Greater Tuna" meets "Waiting for Guffman". The quick changes between characters (without any real change of costume) is break-neck, and breathtaking. How they manage to keep them all separate is truly miraculous. Hindman and Souhrada are nothing short of brilliant, putting on a comic acting tour de force (tour de farce?)

Review: POPCORN FALLS at Penguin Rep

Most of the jokes are hilarious (if not exactly Noel Coward - e.g. a really silly diarrhea joke) Seeing playwright Hindman, perform as actor Hindman, ensures the portrayal is what the author had in mind - thus he gets more credit for the good and more blame for the bad. But there really isn't much bad. Once the show gets on its legs, the pace is fast and furious, and the laughs are large and rapid-fire.

The clever, well-designed unit set by Jessica Parks allowed for smooth, quick changes of character. Co-directors Rose Riccardi and Tom Souhrada keep the action flowing smoothly and briskly and manage to keep what could be a confusing mishmash of a story in a fairly cohesive narrative. Kudos!

Popcorn Falls flies by in about 80 minutes - 80 minutes that leave the actors and audience with literally no time to rest! Penguin has started their 45th Season with a winner. Highly recommended!

Peter Danish


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