Rare is the time I get to leave the office in the middle of the afternoon to go see something that is almost certain to make me laugh, but that’s exactly what happened Tuesday.
Durango High School’s Theatre Troupe 1096 was running through its production of the Billy Van Zandt/Jane Milmore play “Drop Dead,” which will open tonight at the school’s theater. And what a production!
“Drop Dead” is a play within a play, and a murder mystery within a murder mystery, wrapped in a comedy. Taking place on the set of an off-, off-, off-, off-Broadway play, desperate actors’ egos flare, things break and, oh yeah, the body count mounts.
And it’s hilarious.
Directed by Benjamin Mattson, the cast of 10 includes: Gabe Parker as Chaz/Drools; Colson Parker as Brent/Alexander; Egan Lindsay as Dick/Inspector; Luke Nicholson as Director Victor Le Pewe; Dylan Baken as Phillip; Siena Widen as Mona/Bette; Isabelle Herringer as Candy/Penelope; Tierney Brennen as Constance/Lady Barrington; Baylee Peterson as Piggy; and Sophie Hughes as Alabama.
The whole cast works well together, and their comedic timing is impeccable – especially during Act II, when the physicality of the play really ramps up. The sparse set serves to keep the attention on the actors, and the use of the front row and space immediately in front of the stage gives a real sense of the play-within-a-play setting.
Two things that really stood out when I saw it: During intermission, audience members who were sitting behind me were already reciting the funnier lines of Act I (“Gouda cheese. Sliced thin.”), and despite the funny dialogue and demanding physical comedy, the actors never once broke character by cracking up – something I couldn’t guarantee wouldn’t happen had I been the one on stage – a testament to the troupe’s professionalism.
“Drop Dead” will be performed this weekend and next at the high school, and it’s a production not to be missed.