The Bay Street Theatre celebrated the work of Shel Silverstein, a pioneer of children’s books and illustrations. But “Shel’s Shorts” certainly wasn’t for children—this one was for adults only.
“Shel’s Shorts” was a collection of short scenes that stayed true to Silverstein’s satirical and wicked sense of humor that we’ve all grown to love. It had the same quirky vibe as “Where the Sidewalk Ends,” only instead of laughing about turtles and hug-of-war, it was the erotic dreams of plumbers and “skronking.”
Director Christopher Stanley did an excellent job with the 14 shorts, providing us with bursts of laughter in almost every one of them. The closing recital of “Garbage Bags” didn’t do Silverstein much justice—the actress playing Sarah clearly hadn’t memorized the lines of the clever little poem and completely missed its crucial comedic timing. But thank goodness the rest of the performances were stellar — something Silverstein himself would have been proud to witness.
In “Gone to Take a…,” John Wesley Turner played an employee who leaves a blunt sign that says he’s gone to the bathroom to take a you-know-what—a word that his all-too-well-mannered boss (Morgan Daniels) can’t bear to say when she’s yelling at him for his disgusting language.
The brilliant chemistry between the two carried off the stage and into the crowd as Daniels’ character snapped into the most potty-mouthed rant about “number two” that’s ever graced a stage. By the time she screamed, “You’re six pounds of s*** in a five-pound bag!,” the audience was falling over in laughter and gasping for air.
Somehow the characters seemed real despite their absolute absurdity. In “No Dogs Allowed,” Mrs. Q and her husband (who is actually a dog covered in blankets and a hat) relaxed on a beach at an exclusive club where a sign clearly states that there are no dogs allowed.
When the manager confronted her, Mrs. Q passionately defended her husband/dog with insane reasons to explain his dog-like face: “He served in the army and his face got blown up!” “Have you ever heard the legend of the werewolf?” “He was a carny in his youth as the dog-faced-boy!”
Yeah, it was totally ridiculous, but thanks to actress Pepi Streiff, you couldn’t help but think there just might be people exactly like Mrs. Q in this world.
We live in a crazy place after all, full of eccentric characters in zany situations. Both Stanely and Silverstein embraced this to the fullest in “Shel’s Shorts,” and remind us of all the hilarity that surrounds us in our grown-up lives.