The thing I love about catching shows from the only three year old STAGEright is that you can see the amount of heart and love they pour into their productions. From the casting to the sets to the material itself you can tell that these folks have a definite love for what they are presenting rather than just putting something up for the hell of it. Their current production, "The Book of Liz" is no exception with its absurd yet hilarious send up of small town life and finding where you fit in.
From The Talent Family, Amy and David Sedaris, "The Book of Liz" focuses on … well … Liz, an anxiety ridden girl from the Squeamish Country. She has one love in life and that's making her famous cheese balls. But when that duty is taken away from her she embarks on a journey that will lead her through a world of alcoholics, pancakes and a giant peanut as she tries to find where she belongs. This absurdist comedy is just that, absurd. But that's what the Sedaris' excel at. From its stylized writing to its ridiculous situations, in a Sedaris play you just take what is given, laugh and move on. Don't try to figure out why there's a giant peanut on stage, there just is. And directors Dan Davidson and Jenn Owen completely get that as they only added to the surreal comedy with their 2-D sets and staging.
The four person ensemble is nothing short of incredible as they weave in and out of the multiple characters they portray all night. Sydney Andrews as the titular Liz was wonderful as the beleaguered protagonist with a penchant for breaking into a whine/moan when things get to be too much. Dan Posluns managed to switch from uptight Reverend to creepy Ukrainian to screaming queen of a manager with ease and had the audience in stitches every time the latter opened his mouth. Equally amazing was Amelia Meckler as she transformed into each of her characters but it was her prim and proper on the surface Sister Butterworth that had me in tears. And Mike Jones showed off some outstanding comedic timing throughout all his varied roles.
The marvelously quirky 2-D sets and props from Davidson only add to the level of insanity the show offers. A total winner from the folks over at STAGEright. "The Book of Liz" may not make you rethink your own place in the world or come to any profound realizations, but it will make you laugh your butt off for 90 minutes. Just watch out for those cheese balls … and Donny!
"The Book of Liz" from STAGEright performs at Freehold Theatre in Belltown through May 26th. For tickets or information visit them online at www.seattlestageright.org.
Photo credit: Dan Davidson