Early One Evening at the Rainbow Bar & Grill Satirizes Oblivion

Blending dark, apocalyptic comedy, fine acting, and spiritual issues, Early One Evening at the Rainbow Bar & Grill ponders the ultimate question, what actions do you take if the world is about to end?

From l, Roy (Christopher Ocepek), Shep (Shane Palmerton), and Bullard (Kenneth Steven Bernfield) in “Early One Evening at the Rainbow Bar & Grill.”

From l, Roy (Christopher Ocepek), Shep (Shane Palmerton), and Bullard (Kenneth Steven Bernfield) in “Early One Evening at the Rainbow Bar & Grill.”

Bruce Graham’s witty script examines what seven characters in rural Pennsylvania decide to do as the world approaches oblivion. For easygoing bartender Shep (Shane Palmerton), life goes on as usual, while six others face critical and life-altering choices. Preposterous situations and hilarious one-liners add levity to the subject matter, as they capture several distinct spiritual types.

Director Sherry Coon builds a nice rhythm to the proceedings, starting the show on a slow burn before throwing in frenetic action, and leaving time for contemplation. She keeps the actors energetically spitting out their lines and whirling around the stage.

Excellent timing and ironic line readings make the production laugh-out-loud hilarious. Palmerton’s touching underplaying supports the daffy oddballs running around: gun-toting redneck (Michael James Thompson), overeager aluminum salesman Bullard (Kenneth Steven Bernfield), dim naïf (Christopher Ocepek), hot waitress (Cindy Dellinger), charming physical education teacher (Linda Mayer), and quizzical, mysterious salesperson Jo (Melinda Browne).

Nice touches like a wall payphone and tin beer signs add an authentic look to the bar set, and the bad plaids and wide lapels accurately capture the odd fashion sense of the late 1970s.

Early One Evening at the Rainbow Bar & Grill keeps the audience laughing, while at the same time, considering what they would be doing in the exact same situation.

The Vagabond Players Theatre Company presents Early One Evening at the Rainbow Bar & Grill Friday and Saturday evenings at 8 p.m. through June 29 at the Sherry Theatre located at 11052 Magnolia Blvd. in North Hollywood. Tickets cost $20, $15 for students, seniors, and groups. Call (818) 206-4000 for information or to make reservations.

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