Few Skidmarks at City Theatre's Undershorts

Categories: Culture
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George Schiavone
A fourth-grade teacher (Sally Biondi) shows her students her newest purchase: a loaded 9mm handgun in Craig Pospisil's "Guns Don't Kill."

Note: We’re giving away free tickets to this one—check out contest details after the jump.

Undershorts is one hell of a night at the theater. It’s such an awesome concept that you can’t believe a major SoFla theater company didn’t think of it before, and City Theatre is pulling it off with such aplomb and guttery grace that you can’t help feeling grateful that they thought of it first.

The idea is this: take all the cool plays that would have made it into Summer Shorts if they weren’t so filthy, stick them into a late-night program of their own, and encourage boneless drunkenness amongst the City Theatre punters until the isles of the Arsht’s big studio theater are filled with cross-eyed puddles of helplessly cackling humanity that were, until just a few moments before, respectable-looking SoFla theater mavens.

So Undershorts is not the deepest thing in the world, and nobody minds. Something about material this racy seems to energize its actors, directors, and audiences until everybody in the theater feels like an adventurer; an expeditionary into the artistic wilds where notions like “taste” and “propriety” hold no sway. There is a sense that you don’t know what you’ll find out there, and each little discovery and turn feels like revelation crossed with delight.

Which isn’t to say everything’s perfect. Of the eight Undershorts pieces, one is a flop (Savannah Reich’s “Time of Changes,” during which we witness an educational video about puberty devolve into an unfunny celebration of existential angst), and one is only mildly amusing (“Wood”). But the other six, though — holy shit!

It’s impossible to pick favorites because they’re all so good, and because Undershorts would be so much less satisfying without any of them. Both David Ives’ “Moby Dude” and Rolin Jones’ “The Mercury and The Magic” are unexpectedly heartwarming — in the former, an apparently stupid stoner kid (David Hemphill) wows his teachers with a deep and loving analysis of Herman Melville, while the latter follows two possums (Hemphill and Andy Quiroga) as they riff on the meaning of it all while dodging cars. Both seem to be emphatic assertions that beauty is where you find it, no matter who (or what) you are, and both are so gleefully delivered that you end up believing it, if you didn’t already.

“Paul and Eddie,” about two unlucky fellows getting crucified alongside Jesus (Kevin Reilley and Quiroga), is pretty affecting as well, but that’s about where the seriousness ends. One could interpret Craig Pospisil’s “Guns Don’t Kill” as sly social commentary, but it’s probably more fun to take it as a face-value explication of how much fun 2nd Amendment crazies can have as elementary school teachers. Alex Dremman’s “On The Porch One Spring Morning” follows a mother and daughter (Sally Bondi and a hot hot hot Ceci Fernandez), both of whom happen to be secret agents, as they try to assassinate each other over tea.

And Rolin Jones’ “Chronicle Simpkins Will Cut Your Ass” features a big ensemble cast gathered ‘round Erin Joy Schmidt, who plays the world’s nastiest 4th grade tether-ball champion. She and her posse — an overwhelmingly wicked Fernandez and a mush-mouthed Bondi with a face full of orthodontics — beat, intimidate, and humiliate anyone who gets in their way, and threaten to report their teacher as a pedophile if he should try to discipline them for it. “Chronicle” is a sad play if you really think about it — that the concept of murderous 10-year-old gang-bangers in the making is not impenetrably foreign to modern audiences seems to say something rather dire about the current state of the world — but neither you nor anybody you know could possibly mind in the moment of performance. Just then, all that matters is how Fernandez and Schmidt seem to have waited all their lives to be so bad, and how much fun they’re having now that they’ve got their chance.

Undershorts plays for only one more weekend. Tickets can be purchased by clicking here.

- Brandon K. Thorp

Contest: To win two free tix for the Saturday show, post the filthiest, most reprobate title you can think of for a ten minute play along with your email addie. We’ll let you know who won on Thursday, at 9 p.m.

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