Last night I went to a play. No need to go get your eyes checked, you read that right. I showered, shaved and put on pants that require zipping and headed out with the missus to a theater to watch actors perform in front of a live audience. A drastic change in my standard Friday night routine of eating pizza and watching Evil Dead until I quietly cry myself to sleep… I know what you are thinking: This must mean the end of SJP and their coverage of movies & comics books, over the top violence and dick and fart jokes. Put those fears to rest and take comfort in the fact that I will never stop loving human beings cracking wise about their genitals! With that it’s safe to assume the play I saw featured not only enough dick jokes to satisfy my 13-year-old sense of humor, but also: Aliens, time travel, cannibal children, mermaids and genetically altered pig men. Not to mention a theater where you can drink beer. Everything I love about live theater! Hell, if I’d know this was the kind of stuff Shakespeare was jabbering on about I would have paid more attention in High School… and Yes, I believe that William Shakespeare wrote the very first fart joke! I went to public high school….
See You Next Doomsday isn’t breaking any new ground here when it comes to plot. Slacker and colossal under achiever Oliver (Shawn Handlon) is a 40-year-old sandwich delivery guy who just got dumped by his girl friend. Oliver doesn’t have much going on for him so when a space alien named Richard Gere (Mike McGettigan) shows up and offers him a chance to party on a space station for a couple of days why the hell wouldn’t he?!?! Unknowingly passing through a time hole on his return back to earth, Oliver finds himself in post apocalypse future that is filled to the brim with every apocalypse/end of the world cliché you can imagine. Think of it like those terrible “spoof movies” (ie: Not Another Teen Movie or Date Movie) only actually funny and weirdly engaging. So really it’s nothing like those movies. Actually the exact opposite. It’s probably best if you don’t think of those at all… Really nailing this review!
Director Lauren Bickers handles SYND with an expert hand. The scope of the play is huge. Time Travel, space voyage, nuclear holocaust are all aspects of a story that are difficult as hell to recreate in movies and I can imagine even harder with live theater. Bickers knows the limits she has and works within them with ease. Or what appears to be ease. The use of stage lighting helps set the scenery and aids in smooth transitions between scenes. There’s a low-budget charm here that easily could have ruined the play. Thanks to Bickers direction it only adds to the laughs and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I am not in the know when it comes to local theater ( or any kind of theater really). Local comic shops and pizza, now that’s my wheelhouse. Local actors and comedy, not so much. BUT if SYND is what the area has to offer I need to start paying more attention. Shawn Handlon has a Ken Marino approach to Oliver. A lovable slacker who easily accepts the craziness that is happening around him at face value and dives head first into the insanity. Jade Fearn plays the reluctant to love, but still we know she’s going to be the love interest, Dafne. Jade handles this cliché character with the seriousness that it demands. Every comedy needs a straight man (or woman) to help show the absurdity of the situation and Jade does just that.
Playing various different roles is Michael Hovitch and Moni Jones. These two take on countless different roles from mutated pigmen to cannibal children. Jones’ accents are nothing short of amazing and I would be shocked to learn she can’t sing. Someone that can use her pipes like that has to know how to belt it. Hovitch has the makings of a great character actor. He’s able to pass off as the nerdy brother and then in a blink of an eye be an angry hillbilly hellbent on revenge. Their ability to switch from character to character seamlessly is a testament to them as actors and helps the story flow smoothly.
Speaking of various roles Mike McGettigan does his fair share of characters and each one is as funny (if not funnier) than the last. Mike steals the show here. Every time he was on stage I was dying. His comedic timing is flawless and his ability to jump from character to character is impressive. Even while playing some of the most over the top characters he is completely believable. Which goes along way for the humor. I just got to wonder how the rest of the cast wasn’t dying laughing along with the audience.
The whole slacker thrown into an off the wall scenario and proves he can rise above a life time of loserness (just googled it ‘loserness’ is not a word, but I’m sticking with it) has been done, but writers Shawn Handlon and Mike McGettigan just use that as a framing tool for some side-splitting comedy. The jokes are raunchy and these guys don’t mind hitting below the belt to help a joke land. Which is how we like things here in Detroit. If you don’t like your jokes blue, you have no business going to a comedy show in Hamtramck. Handlon & McGettigan wear their love for the city on their sleeve, but that doesn’t mean it’s safe from being the punchline. And that goes across the board. Everything from social commentary on Detroit to Jeff Goldblum and Geena Davis’ relationship take turns on the chopping block. Hell, even the 1994 Kurt Russell classic Stargate gets hit… What?!? I can’t be the only that thinks it’s a classic!
See You Next Doomsday is vulgar, witty and completely hilarious. A low-budget play with a blockbuster feel thanks to exceptional directing from Lauren Bickers and an unprecedented cast. Very rarely is there a minute that goes by where you are not laughing and when there is that’s probably due to a scene change. Why hasn’t someone told me live theater can be this fun? Would have saved me from a ton of sad, pizza fueled, tear filled Friday nights…
See You Next Doomsday is playing now thru May 2nd at the Planet Ant Theater in Hamtramck, MI. For more info and tickets CLICK HERE.