A DUAL CRITICS REVIEW by DICK KEREKES & LEISLA SANSOM [email protected]
Awkward Silence JAX, a sketch comedy troupe founded in 2014, presented its latest Jacksonville performance during July 16-17, 2016 at Atlantic Beach Experimental Theatre to sold out audiences. They have previously performed in a number of shows in Northeast Florida, and branched out with an appearance at the 2015 Orlando Fringe Festival.
For Post to Post Links II error: No link found for term slug "Red, White and Screwed", they presented twenty-five skits of varied lengths on varied subjects; many were focused on political topics and seemed ripped directly from current news headlines. Of course, Donald John Trump, Republican presumptive presidential nominee, received much of the attention (presumptive, as we are writing this prior to the GOP convention and cannot foresee the future).
Especially funny portrayals had Trump finding new places to build walls; one to block Caribbean immigration and another to protect Oklahoma from tornadoes. Awkward Silence founder Gary Baker once again portrayed The Donald, wearing the well-chosen wig he made famous in the 2015 show. The first act closed with a scene at the Republican Convention, with a bathroom guard who was responsible for screening attendees and ensuring their bathroom choice was gender-appropriate.
Modern technology was evidenced, as two skits used a video screen displaying footage shot with an iPhone. The title of the first tells it all: “Squatty Potty” featured the singing of Katie Swider McCloskey. “Donald’s Clubhouse” used puppets as the actors in a play inspired by Disney characters.
Jennifer Johnston appeared as a chef cooking lobsters in “Les Misrelobsters,” animated by costumed David Girard and T. H. Hainline as the two lovely but unfortunate crustaceans meeting an untimely and heated end.Leslie Richart appeared in several skits as a preschool teacher who lacked the gentle touch; mistreating the kids, taking their money, and worse, portraying a rowdy drunk at one point. Jason Collins was at his funniest as a salesman for Hand Job, a Trump product. The skit included endorsements.
Our personal favorites of the evening were “CNN Warmups” and “Awkward Trends,” satirical treatments of televised portrayals of political matters.
The show closed with “All Bernie Cares About,” with T. R. Hainline as Bernie, joined by three avid supporters.
We spoke with Gary Baker after the show and asked why topics related to the local political scene — which seems be hot right now — were not included. Baker indicated it was a timing issue, as most of the political revelations of current concern occurred quite recently, while he and his fellow writers Jeff Springman and Noah Bennett had competed the script for the show several weeks ago, and were focused on rehearsal afterward.
The performance was on an open stage with chairs and props carried on and off by the cast. We heard people in the crowd commenting on the lovely (stone) wall at the back of the set, and assumed it was done by the Awkward group. Actually, we learned the set was conceived by local artist Ann Roberts, and is being used by students at ABET’s summer program for children.
We are sure Awkward Silence will be back in the future, as no matter who wins the current presidential race, it is bound to be quite a ride and the always energetic and hilarious troupe members are always ready to transform new news into new winning comedy. For additional information about the troupe, see awkwardsilencejax.com