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3M1W, a compilation of five short plays by Jesse Kellerman '01, is a surprising and delightful comic bombardment of some of America's most entrenched institutions. Kellerman's creation aptly skewers everything from the scientific method to modern fashion. The remarkably versatile cast, comprised of, surprisingly enough, three men (John Keefe '01, David Modigliani '02 and Jonathan Steinberger '00) and one woman (Catherine Gowl '02), flies through the two hours of sketch comedy with veteran timing and delivery. Each of the short plays runs about 20 minutes and covers a single topic; science, government, gender equality, higher education and higher-still fashion are sequentially caught in Kellerman's crosshairs. While at times the text can be a bit heavy handed in making its points, especially in the two most overtly political scenes, the dialogue is sharp and extremely funny.
While each performer appears in all five plays as a different character, some scenes seem more closely tailored to the strengths of one individual or another. Gowl and Steinberger are hilarious as an elderly couple suddenly able to speak only Italian as the result of a failed experiment, and Modigliani's wonderful deadpan shines when he plays an inefficient government bureaucrat. Keefe's brown-nosing graduate student is so distressingly accurate that many audience members shuddered visibly, no doubt recalling past experiences in Literature and Arts courses. The production, designed by John Gordan '01, was simple yet effective. The blank half wall allowed the performers to transform the space quickly and effortlessly, moving from a bloodstained office (a result of spontaneous human explosion in the second scene) to a co-ed poker game in a small southern home.
The only real problem with the production lies, ironically, at its core. Kellerman's script, though remarkably funny and generally well-crafted, is already out of date. The ideas propagated, though certainly accurate, possess political overtones that make them seem several decades behind the production itself: governmental inefficiency, women's rights and the pretentiousness of fashion are all devices that have been bandied about, hashed and re-hashed since the 1960's. Kellerman's most innovative and, incidentally, funniest moments come from the somewhat fresher ideas of science and education. If they continues to refine their comic ideas, Kellerman and company will no doubt bring many M and W much laughter in the years to come.
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