Two Milwaukee guys walk into a bar.
Guy one: "Hey, you want to write some plays?"
Guy two: "I don’t care."
Guy one: "Okay. Me too. I don’t care either."
Guy two: "I got a pencil. Let’s go then."
Guy one is Jason Powell and Guy two is Doug Jarecki, and it may or may not have happened like that as they created "Destiny, Deviltry & Dentistry," a series of seven sketches currently on display at Alchemist Theatre through Sept. 20.
But whatever kind of thing got these two local guys to sit down and develop this show, it was more than worth it, as it’s about 90 minutes of some of the funniest original stuff I’ve seen in Milwaukee in a long, long time.
The evening opens with Jarecki and Powell on stage trying to explain the different approach each took toward creating an opening to the show, one that would set the stage, so to speak, for what was coming down the pike.
Complete with some music from Powell’s guitar, they are gradually joined on stage by a cast of eight co-conspirators to sing about "Destiny, Deviltry & Dentistry." Even after watching the whole thing, I still have no idea what the title means. But that’s probably fitting.
Katie Cummings directs this cast, which includes Jarecki, Powell, Brittany Boeche, Lindsey Gagliano, Andi Jaspersen, Michael Keiley, Matthew Konkel, Mara McGhee, April Paul and Mitch Weindorf.
Among the characters we're treated to in these sketches are: a female Union soldier whose husband is cheating on her by fighting with the Confederate army; a pair of TSA agents who have been dating for a long time and the influence on them from an array of whacky airline passengers who pass through their checkpoint; Quasimodo, his wife and her sister, who also is a hunchback; the daughter of a couple in Amsterdam who angers her parents because she won’t take the drugs they give to her; and a dentist at a privately owned movie studio emergency dental clinic who is trying to avoid the romantic advances from his receptionist.
See what I mean?
I can’t even come close to counting the number of times I’ve seen young actors and writers put together stuff they think is funny and then it falls flat with a real audience. It’s something about youth.
But this evening is funny. I don’t mean funny for a local group. I mean funny. Real funny.
It’s virtually impossible to accurately describe each of the seven sketches. Putting a description in black and white doesn’t come close to capturing the spirit of this thing. Perhaps the best way to get a feel for this is just to see the titles of each sketch: "You Audit Be In Pictures," "Civil Disunion," "Emotional Baggage," "The Trouble With Notre Dames," "Keep It In The Family," "Rye Spy" and the closer, "Mutiny On The Root Canal."
The little Alchemist Theatre space is one of the real jewels in this city, and it comes alive in an amazing fashion with this production. Sometimes, it was so funny that even an actor of two couldn’t keep a straight face.
That made them just like the audience that laughed from start to finish – even if we weren’t quite certain what we were laughing about. And often, that’s the best kind of laughter of all.
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