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American Stage Sessions: An "Alternative" History Of World Theater

By Lauri Apple in Arts & Entertainment on Oct 12, 2009 6:40PM

Ameristudiosess.jpg If you've got the Recession Blues, the Winter Is Coming/Basically Here Already Blues, a case of "the Mondays," or some combo of the above, The Plagiarists have just the show for you: American Stage Sessions: The Best of History of World Drama (Parts 237, 156, and 994, Presented in Consecutivity). The plot line is somewhat loose: The Muskogee County Magic Theatre Players attempt to raise enough money to keep their theater running by holding a live telethon featuring top episodes of their long-running public access show, American Stage Sessions. Over three "acts," the Players present three excerpts from three different, imaginary playwrights: Southern sad sack Alabama O'Dell, morose and German Herzlichen Gluckwunsch Zum Geburtstag, and early 20th century prole sympathizer Elmer Templeton Shirley, III. To ensure the telethon succeeds, they bring on board former Player and savvy actor Mitch Newman. Tension develops between Newman and stodgy old Professor Nigel Babblecock-Fatkins; their escalating conflict keeps the play moving forward, and ties the scenes together.

If you're big on absurd humor and pop culture references, then American Staged Sessions will give you big-time LOLs. In the scene from O'Dell's "Summer Summer, Hot Hot," for example, a family struggles to save their "city farm"; the eldest son eventually joins a "VAUD-uh-veel" troupe to both make that happen and find his destiny, while his mother and sister busy themselves by covering their faces with powder and drinking paint. Gebertstag's "The Lamp" and "The Corsage" made us think of both Hitchcock and the Dramatic Chipmunk. And Shirley's pro-worker plays celebrate both the working man and the utility of sparkles in achieving class equality. The Ps do an amazing job of keeping the surprises coming over the course of three acts; we can only advise you to go and see for yourself.

Mondays and Tuesdays through Nov. 3. 8 p.m. $15. Viaduct, 3111 N. Western Ave.

Photo provided by Lindsey Verstegen