Rover’s Kong’s Night Out is giddy, sublime screwball comedy


Myron Siegel is a lovable nebbish with a lot of heart. Despite his best efforts to produce a successful Broadway hit, lapses in judgment and cruel fate seem to conspire against him. His new show is about to open, a lot of money is on the line, and his arch-nemesis, Carl Dennam, is about to unveil a “Mystery Attraction,” guaranteed to fill the seats every night, and rob Myron of his desperately needed audience. His mother Sally is constantly deprecating him, comparing him to his father, who also lacked business acumen, and his niece, Daisy, is in town. Daisy is a small-town teenager, and the glamorous temptations of New York City in 1933, have caught her with their powerful spell. His wife Bertrille is actually….well, let’s just say she’s up to no good, and leave it at that.

Jack Neary’s Kong’s Night Out, a kind of homage to the screwball comedies of the 30’s and 40’s (such as Bringing Up Baby and My Man Godfrey) is chock full of wisecracks, shtick, banter and a healthy appreciation for the ridiculous. Warmth is mixed with cynicism, pratfalls with absurd conversations. One of the advantages of a 30’s comedy written in the 21st century, is Neary’s opportunities to sneak in suggestive gags: Bertrille: When are you going to untie me? Carl: Why? I thought you liked to be tied up. Kong’s Night Out is a supremely pleasurable experience, well-balanced between narrative and mirth. Neary doesn’t need to barrage us with an endless stream of jokes. Though it may seem counter-intuitive, the frantic, “let’s throw in everything” approach doesn’t help with enjoyment, it’s like being stuck in the twilight zone with a comic who is constantly “on”.

Kong’s Night Out has a giddy, goofy appeal to it, with a cracker-jack cast. Cindy Kahn (as Sally, the Grandma) has a fabulous, raspy voice that could wither a garden of artificial flowers. Danielle Shirar (Daisy)with her marvelous, sunshiny grin, could be the next Zasu Pitts. Her optimism could clear off a merciless thunderstorm. John Hogwood’s Carl Dennam has a line of patter straight out of Phillip Barry or Dashiell Hammett, and keep you smiling all the way home from the theater. There’s a special technique to the back and forth of sharp-witted, rapid dialogue, and while some lines definitely had more of that distinctive pop, all-in-all, Kong’s Night Out was a sublime experience.

Rover Dramawerks presents: Kong’s Night Out, playing September 8th– October 1st, 2016. 221 West Parker Road, Suite 580, Plano Texas 75023. 972-849-0358.

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