Absurdity, Fun, and Many Laughs Await in Popcorn Falls at Curtain Call Theatre
Popcorn Falls, a small American town whose one claim to fame is the waterfall for whom it is named has dried up. The town is bankrupt. Its only chance for survival is an arts grant. The hook? They have to produce a play in a week, and oh yes, they have no theater.
Clearly, the play, Popcorn Falls, currently on stage at Curtain Call Theatre is not Shakespeare or Arthur Miller. What it is, is funny, slapstick, and absurd. A black stage with no set, two black folding chairs, a movable blackboard, a small table, a small bookcase, a coat rack, an American Flag, numerous props, and a great deal of pantomime. It has a large cast of characters, about 20, and one other hook, just two actors performing all the roles. This is not the first play that has been written for two performers playing multiple roles. It requires finesse from the performers to pull it off and a cooperative audience to follow the action and participate in the fun.
Fortunately, Curtain Call’s audience was more than willing to join in on the fun. It is a play that forces you to pay attention. Actors change characters before your eyes, oftentimes talking to themselves as two different characters! Sometimes the actors swap characters in order to keep the action moving. It is always played for broad laughs, and to that end, Popcorn Falls admirably achieves its goal.
Director Brian Clemente does a fine job keeping his actors on task, creating with them any number of defined characters; whether adding a cap, an apron, a monocle, or just a pose, they create all of the men and women of the town as the audience comes to know them.
Doing all of this work are two fine performers: Ben Amey and Jeremy Buechner. Amey has perhaps the least taxing part; while he does take on several personalities, he spends the majority of the play as the common thread, the town’s mayor, out to save Popcorn Falls from extinction. Buechner has the more exhausting role-playing a multitude of parts. He moved deftly from one to another without a break. Both actors spend the entire time on stage. Both roles rely on timing in order that all of the lines and gags land well. A few times throughout the show, some of the lines landed flat due to either delivery or timing.
Though it appears to be light and flip, it takes two talented performers to pull off a show like this with any success. Both Amey and Buechner show their comic chops; to that end, the two do a fine job.
Indigo Shea’s lighting design, Alex Dietz-Kest Sound Design, and Rebecca Gardner’s props keep the play running smoothly and the audience focused.
Popcorn Falls is the perfect summer fare. It is light, farcical, and fun, and you’ll leave the theater smiling. Popcorn Falls runs through August 6 at Curtain Call Theatre 1 Jean Jugan Lane Latham. For ticket information: www.curtaincalltheatre.com or call: 518-877-7529.