There have to be Broadway lights in the future for the cast, crew and Geyser!, a scintillating play by Kevin Killian and Wayne Smith, which premiered at Small Press Traffic Friday night.

Killian and Smith have collaborated on their fourth piece, and the writing has attained a sophisticated level of zany humor, pathos, and well-timed, quizzically amusing observations. The playwrights’ usual elements of a beefcake leading man, has-been celebrities, and obscure societal cultures mixed with a white bread American sensibility lead to a comfort zone in which favorite theatrical gambits like verbal cues in advance of stage action, writing that seems to occasionally surprise the actors, and malfunctioning technical effects create a frisson of ludicrousness.

With a cast of mostly artists performing the roles, there were stretches of surprisingly good acting punctuated by occasional bad delivery and uninflected lines, scripts in hand. The play begins as the new fans created by the release of the DVD of an old TV series “Geyser!” set in the small town come for a meeting of the dweebie worldwide fan club.

Wayne Smith himself played the butler with extremely funny white hair (I won’t tell you if he did it,) producing a character so nuanced one is amazed that Smith considers himself a visual and sound artist first and foremost.

And then there were clowns… who called in the clowns? Simultaneously valorizing and taking the piss out of artists and/or the counterculture, the playwrights created a radical clown collective living on the outskirts of town that stole the show. As a comedian, Cliff Hengst (Bobo) is congenitally incapable of anything less than commanding the action and eliciting unrestrained laughter from an audience. Pushing the envelope on the clown code of ethics, the clowns provide a safety valve for the existence of those in Geyser who don’t quite fit into the standard social scene, while maintaining a close connection with those in power.

Anne McGuire, Rex Ray, Cliff Hengst, Colter Jacobsen

Every cast member sensitively performed a role with funny lines well tailored for them: Karla Milosevich as Kitty Potter, host of “Kitty Corner”, Rex Ray as Rick Penny, host of “Rick Penny Among the Many”, Wayne Smith as Crimmins, the butler of a great star, Kevin Killian as Marjorie Cantrell, first lady of the American theater, Gerald Corbin as Maurice Anton, Celebrity Stylist, Craig Goodman as Jared Oriole of Sherman Oaks, Tanya Hollis as Anouk, Jared’s fiancée from Brittany, Mac McGinnes, as Wilford Hall, town clerk, Jocelyn Saidenberg as Klanglar Gunnarsdottir, from Iceland, Laurie Reid as Mayor Constance Strode, Colter Jacobsen as Charlie Strode, the mayor’s son, now a clown known as “Buttons”, Glen Helfand as Michael Carson, a local fan and owner of a bed & breakfast place, David Brazil as Lindsay Wagner, a dangerously deluded fan, Margaret Tedesco as Donna Mangiafranni, a fan from Florida, Stephen Boyer as Teddy French, life partner of Michael Carson, Suzanne Stein as Molly Martin, a Twin Cities fan, Taylor Brady as Gypsy Kincaide, a truck driving fan, Cliff Hengst as Bobo the clown leader, Anne McGuire, as the clown Buttercup, and Scott Hewicker as Dennis Quaid.

- Cheryl Meeker [Sunday, September 14th, 2008]


From the editors