Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Kirk German's Leave It to Beverly is a rib-tickler. His characters and cast go sailing off into TV Land of the 1950s and 1960s, taking the gags and the mannerisms way up over the top. DA! applies its energetic young 21st-century humor to Mom and Pop's naive entertainments and comes away a winner.
Consider, for example, canned laughter. The early days of television featured many programs filmed before live audiences, but with rising costs and the introduction of video tape, producers were happy to sweeten audience reactions or do away with them entirely by using "laugh tracks." A single eccentric artist, Charlie Douglas, pretty much had the monopoly of that business through the 1960s, thanks to his "laff box," a complicated non-computerized device.
German's opening episode "Leave It to Beverly" features our dear housewife Beverly, newly a mother of twins, and Husband, a big, genial horned-rim-glasses-wearing avatar of Robert Young. Author and actors satirize the saccharine and the silliness of those classic sitcoms, in an acting style both coy and twinkling, and the action is regularly interrupted by roars of recorded laughter.
Beverly and her girlfriends become somewhat flustered by this unexplained punctuation of their lives. Eventually, after "Trixie Knows Best," the knock-off of both Bewitched and I Dream of Jeannie, the girls discover great big tins resembling 2-gallon Campbell's soup containers, labeled "HA.HA.HA." Within them is a gelatinous colored substance that has got to be the canned laughter that permeates their existence. How it got there and the reason for it are enigmas that are solved in the final, post-intermission episode, "Make Room for Lorraine."
Read more and see images at AustinLiveTheatre.com . . . .