Jack Benny (A Ménage En Train)

padua playwrights · Ages 21+ · world premiere · United States of America

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June 20, 2018 certified reviewer

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Good thing there’s low comedy and the vaudeville tradition standing on the shoulders of forerunners such as Jack Benny. “Jack Benny, the play” takes apart hierarchical power relations, and the text and actors are superb. The various versions of master/slave relations are subject to the democratizing or leveling force of laughter, but also the liberators such as Abraham Lincoln come in for another lowering of dignity. But what is this train from Chicago to Los Angeles, or maybe it’s a plane or dirigible? How might romantic mumbo jumbo and disfigurements get slathered onto power differentials and somehow predetermine our response? Is our plane, train, dirigible about to crash in this high-speed set of repetition anxieties that, here, are expertly lip sync’ed in either synchronous or asynchronous acting, but there’s also a version of lipless mute gesture and, later, bear-headed puppetry? Is Nurse Trout torturing spaceship earth who just might love it? Are you too worried by time and speed to laugh our planet away as Musical Chairs removes your spot?
—Deborah Meadows

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