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Off Broadway Reviews

Everybody Gets Cake!

Theatre Review by Howard Miller

Danny Gardner, Joel Jeske, and Brent McBeth.
Photo by Jim R Moore/Vaudevisuals.

If the words "beautiful downtown Burbank" or "and now for something completely different" resonate with you, then you are the perfect audience for the madcap lunacy of Parallel Exit's Everybody Gets Cake! at 59E59 Theaters.

The former is a catchphrase from Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In, a popular TV comedy show from the early 1970s noted for its format of quick blackout sketches, with performers popping up through multiple doorways and windows, recurring characters, and old style baggy pants burlesque jokes told with a snappy delivery. The latter is associated with the BBC's Monty Python's Flying Circus from the same time period, a show that offered up comic sketches of elaborately crafted absurdity, featuring non-sequiturs delivered with straight-faced seriousness.

Sublimely ridiculous,Everybody Gets Cake! draws inspiration from both of these, as well as sources as varied as the silent film era's Keystone Cops and Peter Schickele's musical parodies credited to the fictional P.D.Q. Bach.

You don't need to be acquainted with the show's comic touchstones in order to enjoy the zaniness. But if you are, you will appreciate how Everybody Gets Cake!—brainchild of the creative team of Joel Jeske, Danny Gardner, and Brent McBeth—pays homage, while adding wonderfully inventive original material. My personal favorites were the Monty Python-like segments involving the use of a training manual called "Awkward Human Contact;" a silent bit about a World War I flying ace; and a musical work performed on iPhones.

Everybody Gets Cake! runs nonstop for 75 minutes, with its versatile creators taking on 44 different roles (Ryan Kasprzak takes over for Mr. Gardner starting tomorrow). Ben Model, who has carved out a distinguished career for himself performing live piano and organ scores for silent films, does a beautiful job accompanying the merriment. Mark Lonergan skillfully directs the trio so that they seem to be like pinballs whizzing across, around, and through Maruti Evans's eye-catching set. All told, the resulting mayhem makes for a perfect pick-me-up on a cold winter's eve.

Everybody Gets Cake!
Through February 8
Running time 75 minutes with no intermission
59E59 Theaters, Theater C, 59 East 59th Street
Tickets online and current Performance Schedule: TicketCentral

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