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BWW Review: Happenstance Theater's 'THE PICNICS: A NITWIT DYPTICH' Short and Oh, So Sweet!


A perfect dessert to an evening of binge-watching your favorite historical drama.

BWW Review:  Happenstance Theater's 'THE PICNICS:  A NITWIT DYPTICH' Short and Oh, So Sweet!

As we begin to test the waters of actually being seen in public, and of actually enjoying life (the very thought), it pays to reconnect with our favorites and remind ourselves why it will be so awesome to get away from the couch.

In the meantime, it helps that the couch ain't exactly such a bad place to be, with Happenstance Theater providing your online entertainment. Happenstance is adding to its repertoire of amusing vignettes and vaudeville sketches, impeccably performed and guaranteed to make you smile. They're well worth your time!

Their most recent online production, "The Picnics: A Nitwit Dyptich," makes a perfect dessert to an evening of binge-watching your favorite historical drama, a perfect hors-d'oeuvre before diving into that meaty documentary series. At 14 minutes, it's also just the right, bite-size for a mid-day snack. Which is, actually, kinda what it's about...

Mark Jaster and Sabrina Mandell are up to their usual tricks, playing contrasting pairs of picnic-goers out for a day in the sun. Working-class stiffs Joe and Rosie prepare for a simple repast of bread and wine, with a soon-to-be-famous uncork-the-bottle routine sandwiched in (couldn't resist), while nearby an upper-class twit, Cousin Ainsley, is schooled in the graces of a proper high tea with his Auntie Gertrude. Mandell's camera work as Gertrude is hilarious, as it becomes crystal clear that her darling cousin learned his manners from-well, let's just say he's got more in common with Joe and Rosie, as he wolfs down what one scarcely nibbles at, if one is attending a truly proper, proper, upper-crust sort of event. (The puns just keep on coming, don't they?)

David Allen Ranger provides amusing silent-film style piano accompaniment, punctuating the routines nicely, and the title sequence is definitely a throwback to the silent era.

That said, let's talk about how we can support great artists like Happenstance as we eagerly await seeing them perform live, shall we? Here's a thought:

One of the things we've discovered at the (ahem) Arlington White House has been to arrange Zoom meetings with friends, where we share the screen and watch our favorite shows together. If it's just you and one other friend, you have all the time you need to watch a few things-and Happenstance's brief videos make a lovely addition to your evenings together.

So: if you want to support one of the Washington area's most valuable ensembles, here's what you can do: go to the link below, and buy multiple showings of their latest offering, "The Picnics: A Nitwit Dyptich" - and email the Vimeo link to friends. Alternately, you could rent it yourself, and share with a friend or two, encouraging them to sort through Happenstance's video library for themselves.

Production Photo: Mark Jaster as Cousin Ainsley, and Sabrina Mandell as Auntie Gertrude.

Running Time: 15 minutes.

The Picnics: a Nitwit Dyptich is available online; Vimeo access is $10, and can be obtained by visiting:

For more fun, have a look at their library of online performances at:

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From This Author Andrew White