nytheatre.com review by Don Jordan
August 15, 2004
Currently running at the Greenwich Street Theatre is The Precinct, the latest concoction by the well-known sketch comedy group, Elephant Larry. Comprised of about a dozen short sequences, The Precinct makes clever use of the mystique of police life a la the film and television entertainments that the general public has historically swallowed as reality.
The success of Elephant Larry’s work clearly resides in their strong and detailed characterizations, wherein each member of the team (a quintet that includes Alexander Zalben, Geoff Haggerty, Chris Principe, Jeff Solomon, and Stefan Lawrence) is able to maintain a slew of vivid personae which do not dissolve as the tension mounts and comic chaos erupts.
Highlights of the evening include an a capella version of New York’s infamous bagpipes by Haggerty and Lawrence, as well as a bit in which criminals are brought back to life by being shot in their genitalia. Haggerty’s portrayal of a deadpan detective suddenly overcome with fear and trembling over the photos of a crime scene is a spot-on homage to noir films of the 40’s and 50’s.
The Precinct only falters when it slows down to bring a story-line into play. Fabricated around a search for the “3am Killer,” these expository scenes are not nearly as developed as the others, and they seem to lack the confidence and audience awareness that make a sketch routine click. While adding a strong narrative to make a more cohesive evening is not necessarily successful in this instance, it is exciting to see the group experiment with form in their endeavor to expand the genre.
Overall, The Precinct is best when Elephant Larry draws upon its past experience and focuses on the sketch routines that the audience expects and is there to see. This is a fun time, one that the audiences should enjoy, and a performance ideally suited to FringeNYC.