29 F
Wednesday, February 1, 2023
FairfaxOn Stage: More hits than misses in Monty Python revue

On Stage: More hits than misses in Monty Python revue

Must Read

It’s bracing to realize the classic British television show “Monty Python’s Flying Circus” is a half-century old, but gratifying to see many of the group’s bits have weathered time’s merciless winnowing.

The Vienna Theatre Company’s production of “Monty Python’s Edukational Show” is a loving tribute to classic comedy sketches written by Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones and Michael Palin.

As often is the case with a sketch-comedy medley, some bits are howlingly funny and others receive only the odd murmur or chuckle. A second viewing might help one catch all the nuances.


The 14 cast members, who all take on multiple roles in the show, include Charlie Boone, Thomas Breen, Bruce Alan Rauscher, Bill Evans, Shayne Gardner, Rachel Heffron, Patrick Hogan, Keven Lukacs, Joe Neff, Steven Palkovitz, Reece Smyth, Peter Storck and Benjamin Zimmerman.

Each performer has high points in some sketches, so singling them out is a difficult task. Some routines that score figurative home runs feature:

• A psychotic, blood-spattered barber (Boone) who confesses he rather would have been a gender-bending lumberjack and is joined by several red-plaid-clad compatriots in a famous ditty.

• People working and applying for jobs in the Ministry of Silly Walks. One wonders if the script specifically mentions the kinds of crazy gaits the actors must use or whether they had to improvise those strides themselves.

• A pet-store customer who’s furious that his recently purchased parrot is deceased. The patron rattles off a hilarious litany of euphemisms for death as the lying shop clerk keeps finding rationalizations and pretending the colorful bird is “only resting.”

• A patron who comes to a store that sells arguments, abuse and complaints.
• An Australian college where nearly everyone is called Bruce and most wear khakis and wide-brimmed bush hats with corks to keep away flies. The group bursts into song about drunken philosophers and the audience should be prepared to do more than passively enjoy it.

• A scenery-chewing Hospital for Over Actors, with one patient’s face covered by the photo of a certain 1960s starship captain.

• A cheese shop where none of the product is available, despite a customer’s requests from the most exotic cheeses to quotidian cheddar.
• BBC coverage of Election Night vote tallies involving the Silly and Sensible parties.

• A group of well-to-do Yorkshiremen outdoing each other with outlandish stories about growing up poor.

• An ensemble musical number (led by Gardner and Heffron) that reveals mind-boggling astronomical facts and puts human troubles in perspective.
• A persnickety restaurant where a dirty fork noticed by a diner leads to heavy hysterics on the staff’s part.

• A riff on the Spanish Inquisition.

• A chocolate-factory employee justifying some revolting ingredients.
• The comedy troupe’s perhaps best-known song, “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.”

Video clips open the first and second acts. Both are Vienna-centric, with monsters and hot-air balloons popping up around local businesses.

One video is from the perspective of a knight clip-clopping on horseback around town and into stores. He stops in front of a shelf lined with a certain canned-pork product, which also is the subject of its own sketch.

The outing, directed by Eric Storck and produced by Ann Storck, features a tiny bit of profanity and plenty of skits that might rile touchy modern-era souls. In addition to the usual notices about emergency exits and not recording the show, patrons receive a reminder that the sketches were written decades ago.

Set painter Adrienne Kammer provides office and shop backgrounds that work well for multiple skits, while animator Mason Shelby and projection designer David Shelby contribute humorous elements, as well.

The opening-night show had a few technical glitches, as was to be expected, but these no doubt will be ironed out over the production’s run.

In between the on-stage sketches were short audio bits that for me didn’t resonate as well. This might have resulted from a lack of familiarity with those routines, or a preference to see them acted out in person, but that’s my view.

Amalgating all the sketches highlighted here, “Monty Python’s Edukational Show” made a strong impression and is a fine tonic for those suffering from gray-blah winter blues.

• • •

The show runs through Feb. 5 at the Vienna Community Center. Performances are Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., Sundays at 2 p.m. Tickets cost $15.
For more information, see the Website at www.viennatheatrecompany.org.

- Advertisement -

Latest News

County Council of PTAs taps Reflections honorees

The Arlington County Council of Parent Teacher Associations (PTAs) has honored the 2022-23 Reflections contest winners at the county...
- Advertisement -

More Articles Like This