Comic Shorts: popular playwrights twist things up, laughs guaranteed

TEMP ORARY February 23, 2012 0

Lisa’s father gave her a pony for her birthday, a dead pony. Why? Will Jerry jump to his death into troubled water? Could a measly secretary become a murderer to find fame and glory? Find out when you come see these three comic shorts.

The Elizabethtown College Theater Department is proud to present three comedic sketches to be performed Feb. 25 and 26 at 8 p.m. in the Tempest Theatre. Tickets are $4 for general admission and can be purchased by calling (717) 361-1170 or emailing

The authors of these works are three highly acclaimed playwrights: Shel Silverstein, William Borden and Elaine May. “I chose these shows simply by reading through a lot of short plays and finding the ones that appealed to me the most,” director Laura Robbins said. A senior at Etown, Robbins has directed the show with the intention of leaving the audience “walking away feeling something.” These three handpicked shows are sure to promote an intrigued audience and a thirst for information. Cast members include seniors Jaclyn Light and Danielle Fishman.

“I chose plays that I enjoyed and could envision. It’s very important for a director to have a vision of the play, because even though theater is an incredibly collaborative art, in a lot of ways the director is the leader and without that vision things can become difficult and confused quickly,” Robbins said.

The show starts with Silverstein’s “Best Daddy,” a twisted story of a young girl’s birthday celebration with an abusive father. It is Lisa’s 13th birthday and she had always asked for a pony in her birthday wishes. She would have never imagined her father actually getting her one. Except there is a problem with the horse … Lisa’s father has shot the horse in the head! How could it be? What a cruel trick to play on a young girl!

Lisa’s emotions push her into hysterics as her father uncovers the horse; or is it her sister, or a friend? When the pony changes so do the emotions in Lisa’s head; her father is torturing her mind. This dark comedy shows a very different side of Shel Siverstein from the one many know from “Where the Sidewalk Ends.”

The first play comes to a close as the second sketch, written by William Borden, begins. “Jumping” is the name given to the realistic comedy. Jerry, a professor from California, meets a woman, Denise, as he attempts to take his own life by jumping off a bridge. Denise has her own psychopathic issues and begins sharing them in the midst of Jerry’s self-conflicting thoughts about the correct way of jumping to his death.

The show concludes with a power struggle during dinner in the office. “The Way of All Fish,” written by Elaine May, captures the heat of each moment as this fiery battle rages. “Riverton’s plan for murder is unfurled as the two dine,” Robbins said. The power struggle between secretary and boss leads this mysterious comical play through many themes and explores one character’s wicked incentives for murder. This office dinner quickly turns into a terror tale. Miss Riverton, the secretary, wants the fame and the glory that her boss, Miss Asquith, has in her wealthy business position. Riverton seems as though she’d do anything to take it from her.

A cast favorite, ‘The Way of All Fish’ will keep you on the edge of your seat with anticipation. The longest of the three shows, this half hour sketch has been saved for last. “‘The Way of All Fish’ is the most developed show with the most lines, and what I feel has the most comedy,” Robbins said.

Robbins directed the show for her senior theater project. “This project is a graduation requirement, though I could have chosen to do a different project,” Robbins said. Robbins’ love of theater and devotion to the arts is evident in her actors through their technique and devotion to the stage. Directing her first show, Robbins challenged herself in a leadership position. “I really wasn’t sure what I wanted to do for my senior project … I decided to push myself and see what I could do,” Robbins said.

Many times an audience doesn’t understand what type of work goes into moving a show from the drawing board to the stage. The work involved before opening night creates the final result. Robbins was able to explain what exactly her role as a director involved in this specific show.

“The requirements for this included writing a prospectus, a script analysis for each sketch, prop lists, costume lists, floor plans, rehearsal notes, a prompt book with blocking and roughly 60 hours of rehearsal,” Robbins said. The amount of preparation by this director, cast and crew could match that of most sports teams on campus.

Located in Tempest Theatre just behind the Bird Cage in the BSC, this one-hour comedic collection is sure to engage a variety of your emotions as you sit back, relax and enjoy the show!

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