Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Ssh!"

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note: entire contents copyright 2009 by Beverly Creasey

You Don't Say!

Reviewed by Beverly Creasey

Practically none of us wants to venture out of the house in this never ending, soggy soup. Here’s reason to suit up the raingear and head over to the Boston Playwrights’ Theatre next weekend. Shh! is a hilarious revue of scathing satirical sketches on a truly vital subject: Why we swear (at the blasted weather, for instance)…Who says we shouldn’t….Is it really for our own good….and shouldn’t we decide that for ourselves? Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the constitution (You know, the one that’s been trampled by “executive privilege” of late) is given a comic going-over by the “New Exhibition Room” theater, named for the very first theater company in Boston.

Co-artistic directors, Nora Long and Dawn Simmons, explain that the original “New Exhibition Room” masqueraded as an art gallery in the 1790s because theater was “banned in Boston” (and has been any number of times since) so OTHELLO and its ilk were advertised as “Moral Lectures” to fool the powers that were. Shh! takes an irreverent look at censorship and sends it up in grand style, no holds barred…literally: Alex Simoes and Hannah Husband duke it out most convincingly. By the by, I should tell you this is not a show for children. Simmons, Long and company are serious about their send-up. As they say on the Telly, you’ll be witnessing “Adult Content” in “Language, Violence and Nudity.”

Did I mention that Shh! is FREE? That’s reason alone to strap on the galoshes. In addition to being FREE (Thurs-Saturday 8 P.M. July 9-25), Shh! is damn good. Oops. I may need to attend Husband’s academy for “proper vocabulary usage” under stress, a sketch performed with first rate comic timing, I might add. Director Long knows her stuff. Humor has been used for centuries to shine a light on injustice and the New Exhibition-ists illuminate it like gangbusters.

Christina Watka and her back up singers (Melissa Barker and Husband) croon some sensational boogie-woogie, à la the Andrews Sisters, promoting the “Loose Lips Sink Ships” campaign for self-censorship in WWII. The company wrote and shaped their own material, working from all sides of the issue, including historical sources like the “Shut My Mouth” ditty ---and inventing compelling original music, dance and even cheerleading. Yes, Chuong Pham and Nate Gundy hoist Barker pyramid style in a “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” cheer. Simoes and Watka get a gorgeous ballad about the risks of texting and sexting. Shh! is sharp, sardonic as hell, on target and lots of fun, besides.

"Shh!" (2 - 25 July)
@ Boston Playwrights' Theatre, 949 Commonwealth Avenue, BOSTON MA
1 (617)353-5443

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide