If you’re too young or unfortunate enough never to have seen the Carol Burnett Show, my telling you that Hold the Tomato reminded me of it won’t be very helpful. If you do know the TV variety show from the 70s you’ll recognize its goofy, friends-making-friends laugh nature in this production featuring Laugh Index Theatre’s Hot & Sweaty troupe.
The first part of Hold the Tomato is a series of sketches. Just as on Carol Burnett, some of them were very funny. The human leaf blower and Nihilist News at Nine were two of my favorites. And, as with all sketch shows, there were a few clunkers. There was an attempt to hang the play’s structure on a premise on Disney. Pleasing the Disney bosses was supposed to be the reason the performers tried different types of entertainment. I didn’t totally get that and found it distracting. As a sketch, using pigeons for Victorian sexting can stand on its own. And I didn’t need to know why a sensitive and educated boy band (who “went to the Women’s March and got woke”) was formed. I just needed to laugh hard during their entire song.
Hold the Tomato
closes July 28, 2018
Details and tickets
The Hold the Tomato cast turns to really good improv in the second half. The audience was given tomato-like objects and instructed to throw them at the performers during a scene when they wanted to hear a song. For the most part the scenes and songs worked and the audience laughed a lot. Half the fun of improv for me is watching the performers figure it out, whether or not it ends up being funny. I enjoy watching them make decisions and then deal with the consequences. It’s best when they seem like they’re enjoying the ride too as the Hot & Sweaty team did.
Note that other troupes will be featured in the improv portion of some “Hold the Tomato” Fringe shows. Perhaps I’ll go back to see them, and then I’ll get to see the human leaf blower again.
Hold the Tomato. Director: Nancy Safavi. Playwright: Nancy Safavi, David Stauffer. Choreographer: Nancy Safavi. Composer: Wesley Fox. Featuring: David Byrd, Wesley Fox, Laura O’Brien, Riley McGrath, Langdon Page, Nancy Safavi, David Stauffer. Produced by Laugh Index Theatre. Presented at Capital Fringe Festival 2018 . Reviewed by Michelle Rago.
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