SPT – The fourth installment of the “Games People Play” series of SPT’s “Tales from the Writer’s Room” played to a packed house this weekend. Special guests Bret Goethe and Katy Slaven joined the SPT crowd onstage, along with Matt Brooks, Ron DeWitte, Dave Nolte, and Dave Ollinger in the band.
The show takes a slightly different format this time, with a couple of intertwined stories that run through the entire evening: Julie (Katy Slaven) and Nick (Adam Witte), a couple of old friends, find themselves watching a classic film noir called The Clueless Dick. No, it’s not a porno; “Pierce Arrow” (Jason Alberty) is a private eye who’s been called on to solve a mystery. While they’re discussing the movie, it becomes clear that Julie has long been in love with Nick, but doesn’t know how to tell him, much like Pierce’s assistant Kitty (Mary Sullivan) can’t confess her infatuation with her boss.
Jason Alberty is very funny as the overconfident Pierce, playing beside Mary Sullivan and Bret Gothe (who does a hilarious turn as the damsel in distress). The writing is very punchy; it’s a little bawdy, but a lot of fun, and the cast gets the patter very well. The film noir genre is lampooned with love and care by the company, and the scenes with Pierce and Kitty leave you wanting more.
Meanwhile, Julie is trying to convince Nick to quit pining over Penny (Akwi Nji) and see what’s right in front of him. This storyline is silly and farcical, with equally good writing, and it’s a lot of fun to watch. It also has heart: Julie’s journey is instantly familiar and very engaging, and Slaven’s acting is touching in these moments. It’s something you don’t get to see very often with the variety-show SPT format: character growth. Clue keeps moving along, with great music inbetween scenes and visits from old friends like Professor Pizzle and Fiona, but you also get to spend time with a character, and living inside a role with focus and specificity is something Slaven does really well. It’s good to see SPT mixing things up a bit, and the dual storyline in Clue is particularly effective.
Richard Barker’s direction holds this piece together, with very simple staging that allows for energetic performances from the actors. Most of the props are mimed, which allows for a lot of fun gags as items slip in and out of existence. The actors make great use of the space, they really pay attention to each other, and the pacing is very tight.
SPT has one more show in their “Games People Play” season – Sorry on June 1 & 2. Get tickets now; they’re going fast!