An original farce about two different theater companies performing at a festival on a remote island in Ireland is filled with just enough unlikely juxtapositions and absurd situations to keep the audience laughing throughout. It's not many shows that can coherently combine a dog who might become stew, leather bondage-type appare,l and an in-shower rendition of the 1970s song "Afternoon Delight" and have it make a crazy sort of sense and be funny as well.
Crowded Kitchen Players' hilarious "Pints Pounds & Pilgrims" continues this weekend at Unicorn Theatre in Catasauqua.
The play was written by Crowded Kitchen artistic director Ara Barlieb, and was inspired by an actual trip made in 2000 by Theatre Outlet which staged an Irish tragedy on the Island of Inishbofin off the coast of Connemara, County Galwaby. Barlieb, who directs and plays a stage manager in the cast along with other cast members Pamela Wallace and George Miller, were along on the trip which served as inspiration for the play.
In the story two theaters companies - one English and one American - collide when they arrive at the small Irish arts festival to perform prestigious Irish tragedies that both hope will improve their artistic standing. However the festival committee led by the rueful and earnest Michael, played affably by Dan Ferry, was hoping for something lighter such as a bedroom farce. Michael and committee member played oh-so-reasonably by Jeanie Olah, along with Miller as a colorful bartender, watch the goings on with bemusement.
Tom Harrison is humorously insufferable as the over-the-top stereotype of controlling director Simon Wexler. Wexler is determined to make name for himself with the relentlessly dreary Irish tragedy "A Bad Year for Potatoes." Dorthey Cockrell is Wexler's eternally patient stage manager.
Wexler's cast is made up of the practical Bridgette played flirtatiously by Sarah Thomas; Sean played by an incredulous David Fox and Rebecca Burroughs as a somewhat starstruck Maria. The trio are quite funny as they careen from one end of the spectrum to the other trying to please the irascible Wexler.
When Michael suggests an American dinner theater-style bedroom farce would be just the ticket, a nominally talented theater troupe from an Italian dinner theater in Hoboken, NJ is tapped to bring their bawdy show "Don't Dress for Dinner" to Ireland.
David Oswald plays the nearly-defeated American director Benjamin Foolscap, who sees redemption in the invitation.
His cast features Wallace as a cheating wife; Bruce Brown as her paramour and Patti Squire as her ex-military transgender husband. Their play, since it is already meant to be a farce, is hysterically frenetic, particularly when the three hapless actors hilariously attempt to deliver their lines in ludicrous Irish accents.
Mandolin player Kris Kehr adds a nice Celtic touch as an on-stage musician playing live music but he feels slightly under-utilized.
Overall the show is an enjoyable lark moving briskly and delivering laugh after laugh as it barrels to the requisite happy, if implausible, ending.