Theater review | An endearing loser's shenanigans in seedy Las Vegas
Theater review: Printer's Devil Theater presents "Keefee's House of Cards," a play/stand-up act/improv show playing April 17-May 9, 2009, at Seattle's Theatre Off Jackson; review by Nancy Worssam.
Special to The Seattle Times
"Keefee's House of Cards"By Stephen Hando, plays Thursdays-Saturdays through May 9, produced by Printer's Devil Theater at Theatre Off Jackson, 409 Seventh Ave., Seattle; $15 (800-838-3006 or www.brownpapertickets.com; information, www.printersdevil.org).
Meet Keefee. Today's his birthday, and it hasn't started well. He's in a dead-end job at a seedy casino in Las Vegas. But, ever the optimist, he expects the day to get better. An old boyfriend is coming to town, and that will make everything right. Or so he thinks.
Printer Devil Theater's back after a hiatus, and "Keefee's House of Cards," directed by Jennifer Jasper, is written by and stars the company's artistic director, Stephen Hando. It's an amalgam of stand-up comedy, audience participation, drama and improv that takes place in Shenanigans, a casino with all the class of a reality-television dating show. In Shenanigans the décor — heavy on green with an overabundance of shamrocks — hasn't been changed since the 1950s. One waitress (Katy Bourne) is an osteoporitic grandmother; the other (Shannon Kipp) is nine months pregnant and looks like she'll be the next octo-mom. Neither of them will bother to serve you. They'll ask if you want a drink, but you'll never get it.
Throughout the show, "Keefee" offers some genuinely funny lines and clever ad libs. Hando knows how to work an audience. He also knows how to weave a strand of pathos into the fabric of his comic act.
The MC (Joe Zavadil) has that obsequious tone we know from TV commercials for sexual aids or constipation relievers. And Keefee, well, he's a foul-mouthed loser, but an endearing one.
Audience members come on stage to play blackjack — Keefee's brand of blackjack. As dealer, he hasn't quite mastered the automatic shuffler and sometimes forgets to ask for bets before dealing the cards. His repartee is usually lively and engaging, though sometimes stale and predictable.
You know that sooner or later there will be a fart joke. You expect the accidents that happen, and, of course, you know the baby's coming. This is a slice of life. It isn't about character and plot development.
No Cher, no Celine Dion at Shenanigans, just Keefee, unlucky in love and life, but still able to laugh — and make us laugh, too.
Nancy Worssam: email@example.com
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