The wit and acerbic humor of Shel Silverstein is deftly dramatized at the Whitmore-Lindley Theatre. The production is compiled of nine short sketches containing the wicked humor and social commentary that became Silverstein’s trademark. The sketches are a bit uneven, due not to the performers, but rather of some forced writing. Overall, it is an entertaining assortment of laughs and astonishments, as is intended for an adult audience.
The most memorable sketches are “The Lifeboat is Sinking” as it is a candid view of the intellectual battlefield that is marriage. Jen (an engaging Kimberly Jurgen) forces her overburdened husband Sherwin (Brian Wellman) into a pseudo choice where there are no winners. Clearly Silverstein had heard war-stories on the subject and upped the ante. “Wash and dry” unleashes the nightmare of business versus customer and how the small print can be either benign or horrific. The ironic “Smile” exacts revenge of popular catch phrases and by-lines. Gibby (an excellent Mike Plaff) is the creator of “Have a nice day” is tortured by Snooky (a charismatic Adora), Bender (Tiffany Sutton) and Jimbo (Marilyn Porayko).
The sets were Spartan, focusing on the performers, who were well rehearsed for their roles. Director Kimberly Jurgen utilized the charm of script to manifest some sharp performances by the cast. Clearly, Silverstein saw the world in a very gentle, but skewed way. The humor is subversive, and yet, a reminder of the complexities of the human condition that remains the same.
“An Adult Evening with Shel Silverstein.” Through November 21, 2009. The Whitmore-Lindley Theatre 11006 Magnolia Blvd. NoHo, CA 91601 323-393-3218 www.plays411.com/Silverstein