Review: Plan-B Theatre Company AND THE BANNED SLAMMED ON | Buzz Blog

Review: Plan-B Theatre Company AND THE BANNED SLAMMED ON

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It takes a special dedication to theater in general – and to Plan-B Theatre Company in particular – for playwrights to let an audience see what it looks like when they try to cobble together a coherent short play in 12 hours during the middle of the night. --- The fact that anything besides blithering nonsense emerges from that process is nothing short of miraculous.

But there were widely varying degrees of creative success as Plan-B, for the second time, combined its 24-hours-and-a-cloud-of-dust play-creating effort with its send-up of Utah’s peculiar knickers-in-a-twist efforts at shutting down expression in And the Banned Slammed On. The 40-minute introductory segment – hosted by X96’s Bill Allred and KUER’s Doug Fabrizio – addressed the topics that would inspire the evening’s works. The audience lapped up the eye-rolling references to misplaced moral outrage, including a Colbert Report clip focusing on the “Main Street Plaza gay kiss” controversy involving Matt Aune and City Weekly’s own Derek Jones.

It’s hard not to recognize when an artist is playing specifically to the crowd. Jenifer Nii’s “PDA” threw a thinly-veiled Gayle Ruzicka clone and Ann Coulter together for a lesbian embrace and easy laughs, while saying nothing particularly interesting about the furor over gay public displays of affection. Matthew Ivan Bennett found a nice balance between easy shots at prudishness and genuine questions about artistic integrity in his piece about a sexually-graphic monologue being slowly bowdlerized until it’s a happy-go-lucky tap-dance number. Tim Slover’s closing “MoTube” used a game-show premise as a way to toss out as many instances of BYU priggishness over the years as would fit in 10 minutes; the performances by Kirt Bateman and Colleen Baum gave it more kick than it might otherwise have had.

It was also fascinating to see which authors would stay on-the-nose with their approach to their topic, and which would think expansively. Deborah DeVos took a controversy over Weber County schools banning the legal-but-controversial “spice” into a play about high-school journalists talking about their school banning the legal-but-controversial “spice.” Aside from an intriguing challenge to the value of journalistic “objectivity,” there was little to chew on in the characters’ petty bickering. Meanwhile, in the evening’s sly highlight “Nuts,” Julie Jensen took a Park City school’s plan to ban all nuts as inspiration for an absurdist satire of conformity – which was also ingenious in its time-constraint practicality in creating large chunks of dialogue that were repeated for effect.

In his closing remarks promoting next year’s season, Plan-B producing director Jerry Rapier shrugged and quipped about the forthcoming 2011 edition of And the Banned Slammed On, “It could suck.” The fact that it generally doesn’t, even when it aims a bit low, continues to astonish.

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