nytheatre.com review by Kimberly Wadsworth
February 5, 2010
In their notes for You're Welcome, Brooklyn's Debate Society claims that over the years, they've amused themselves by imagining the worst case scenarios for their productions—the worst scenery, the worst costumes, the worst writing, the worst onstage mishaps—and with this show, they decided to actually do these worst-case shows on purpose. You're Welcome is thus a slim but fun evening poking fun at bad theatre.
The bulk of the show is carried by an ensemble of three—Hannah Bos, Paul Thureen, and Michael Cyril Creighton—all of whom romp through sketches involving over-indulgent directors, misfiring fog machines, Portuguese nightlife, or "missed cues." Six more "understudies" (Tim Chawaga, Danna Drezen, John Herman, Rachel McKeon, Annabelle Meunier, and Marisa Savic) ostensibly serve as stagehands, but their work involves a bit of performance as well, whether they are wrestling with misbehaving lights or playing dancing skeletons in an ill-fated production number. I was also charmed with their work providing the "sea" and the "fish" for a number involving "an old Icelandic folktale."
However, I couldn't help but wonder how many of the jokes in the show were in-jokes. Personally, I loved the sketch involving a "staged reading" of a God-awful "new play" about monster truck rallies—and the sight of Thureen and Bos solemnly waddling out onto the stage dressed as trucks is a glorious sight gag. But—I've also seen a lot of real staged readings of new plays, including readings that don't quite go well; I wondered how much of the joke I'd have gotten if I hadn't. The company's take on a "typical" show done for high schools was another bright spot, which may be a hit with a wider audience—their take on a "play about the dangers of drunk driving" will definitely appeal to anyone who's had to suffer through watching over-earnest actors giving awkwardly-staged and over-written plays at school assemblies.
Those who aren't in the habit of seeing a good deal of theatre may not get all the jokes. But if you've ever been dragged to a friend's play, or sat through a show where the company's reach wasn't quite far enough for its grasp, you'll definitely laugh along.