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Those Are The Breaks

Five-person Magnet Theater sketch show has some gems, some near-misses

Pictured: Writer and performer Tim Eberle.

“No Breaks,” a new sketch comedy show at the Magnet Theater that includes two members of the theater’s Lead McEnroe house improv team, has some good sketch ideas and some inspired performances of certain pieces, although there are some moments that could use some fine tuning as well.

The show, seen April 13, clocks in at just over a half hour, and its highlight was a job interview sketch in which the aforementioned Lead McEnroe players, Tim Eberle and Rob Williams put a spin on a standard job interview sketch, with Williams playing a gruff drug dealer to Eberle’s nonplussed applicant, who’s surprised to learn he’s interviewing for the job of drug mule.

A close second was a sketch very similar to this one in which Ian Murphy plays a uber-literary Penthouse Letters editor and Elihu Dietz is his foil, a writer who’s submitted a piece that doesn’t meet such high standards. Another good idea, but there were a few distracting quirks in how the scene was written and performed, like purposeful mispronunciations of some words in an attempt at quirky humor that was a little too obscure to go over.

“No Breaks” had similar flaws here and there, and that may be what held it back from consistently reaching the level of the best pieces in the show. An amusing idea that recurred -- a train conductor speaking offstage, as troupe members played distracted commuters seemingly not listening, as he gave long discourses about his dissatisfactions and other flights of the imagination, ended up running on a little too long, after the joke was already well understood.

The five performers in the group, rounded out by Margo Brooke Pellmar, fit a range of casting types and personas. Dietz is a quirky, skinny guy; Eberle an “everyman” type; and Murphy is the biggest physically of the group. This makes for contrast in characters in the scenes. Pellmar, the only woman, naturally stands out, and gets one opportunity to show off an accent in the show’s closing sketch. But the writing of that sketch sputters a bit, with the pieces of the tales she tells as a taxi driven careening without much logic from one subject to another.

All the sketches are credited as being written by Eberle. Some collaboration with the cast could easily correct a lot of these flaws, especially by instilling some more logic and a little editing into the writing. The performing talent is there. It just needs more collaborative writing to back it up.

“No Breaks” returns to Magnet Theater on April 27.

 

   

     

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