Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Going Once! Laughing Twice!!


Going Once! Laughing Twice!!
by Brian Jaffe
directed by Eric Parness
produced by Sixth Sense Productions

The premise of Going Once! Laughing Twice!!, the silly, entertaining, interactive show from Sixth Sense Productions, is that the audience is bidding at a fine art auction – the type we might find at Christie’s or Sotheby’s. We’re given bidding paddles when we enter, and a wad of big phony bills in large denominations. 

We’re encouraged to go on stage and examine the “artwork”, and we’re offered “champagne”. And so we’re already a part of the show by the time the bidding begins, primed to participate. Once the auction is underway, the paddles flutter and the bids jump by millions.

Under the direction Eric Parness, the actors do a terrific job of keeping in parody. The personalities we meet are mostly zany. The auction house owner, played by the playwright, Brian Jaffe, is the buffoon. His girlfriend is a doll whose “performance art” – performed privately in the back room – is up for auction. The auctioneer is smart and straightforward. The minority owner is a dweeby heir to the founder of the auction house. There’s an artist with a French accent, a moll with a thick Bronx accent, an overbearing German, a nice girl on her first day on the job... In short, it’s a population that we’re happy to recognize in the form of cartoons.

Mr. Jaffe’s character is the center of the show, and he leads the cast ably through the evening. He has a talent for improvising as the moment demands.

The characters played by the three actresses are the evening’s hostesses. They’re usually in the audience chatting with us. There are times when the focus is on the stage and there are mutterings in the audience as they talk with us. This is a nice choice from Mr. Parness. It gives the fiction the texture of life. We need to block out the murmuring in order to hear the on-stage dialogue. We may miss some lines, but it’s worth the cost for this sort of interactive naturalism.

There’s a bit of a story here, a type of structure, but it’s sketchy. The activity of the auction doesn’t substitute for a framing device. And the period before the auction itself begins, interesting as it is for a while, lasts too long without the show’s central business to engross us.

In all, Going Once! Laughing Twice!!, is fun, creative and flawed .

Steve Capra
January 2015