featuring the sketch comedy writing of Rob Reese puts a lot of
flavor into small pieces but leaves audiences hungry for a
vaudeville isn’t dead. Tucked away in a hidden spot off Times
Square (Sage Theater, 711 7th Ave.), the players of “Reese’s
Pieces,” a collection of sketches by Rob Reese, meld modern
comedy sensibilities with the spirit of vaudeville.
Reese’s Amnesia Wars company specializes in blending old and
new, as it recently did with its own radio serial, “The Tad
Granite Mysteries,” made available online. Adjunct cast members
in “Pieces” promote the show outside the entrance to the theater
on Broadway near 48th Street. Justin Herfel and Lee Solomon
dress in 1930s hobo-like costumes, with Emily Watts as a flapper
-- all three have a cameo in the show itself.
The main event begins with Sean Dillon trying to instruct
Elizabeth Kennedy how to do nothing -- rather than “don’t do
anything” -- for a skit they’re about to perform between
burlesque acts. This wears out its welcome a little too quickly.
Fortunately, it’s the only real vaudeville homage in the show.
A highlight turns out to be one skit that doesn’t at all rely on
“old-timeiness.” Dave McKeel plays straight man to Shane
Breaux’s delightfully smarmy high school teacher who has brought
McKeel in for career day to talk about being an actor, and then
proceeds to pick him apart with questions about the failures of
his career and his drug use. From the audience, Kennedy plays a
student who joins in grilling McKeel to great effect.
Another highlight is a skit featuring McKeel and Dillon as Roman
centurions bantering about STDs and sucker punches that owes
more to Mel Brooks than Laurel & Hardy.
The Amnesia Wars company is comprised of spirited, appealing
performers and Reese as their writer/director writes well for
them -- if there is anything to critique it would be that the
group ought to develop a few more ideas and sketches to round
out the show, which is a tad short in length.
Reese’s Pieces plays again at 7 p.m. October 17 and 18.