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A CurtainUp Review
The Lapsburgh Layover
The Berserker Residents are a Philadelphia comedy theater ensemble, and their latest production, The Lapsburgh Layover, is an odd little concept that only gets stranger and stranger as the night goes on. And funnier and funnier.
When you walk into Ars Nova, you are given a customs form to fill out for temporary entry into the small country of Lapsburgh. You are taken on a journey through the lower depths of the theater (disguised as airport protocol), you get a “60 minute temporary visa,” your customs form checked, and then entry into a Lapsburgh reception hall (read: the spiffed-up Ars Nova theater).
Drinks are encouraged. I ordered a Lapsburgh special called The Fancy Bicycle. A small group of performers circulate around the room — three men in ambiguous cultural dress, one woman in a sparkly old-school diva outfit. They schmooze with the audience and each other. And then begins a show: a murder mystery story lovingly styled on the stereotypical suburban dinner theater experience.
Of course, what we are really watching is a play within a play, while learning about the fictional European country of Lapsburgh (it seems Eastern in flair); also four personalities and their dynamic with each other. At first, The Lapsburgh Layover is entertaining, but the country feels generic, and the murder mystery is slow-going.
But somewhere along the way, the commitment of the performers shines brightly. As they continue to exclaim on Lapsburgh’s beauty and exceptionality, you begin to believe them. And when they teach the audience how to defend against the country’s biblical-like plague, the show’s wackiness becomes front and center.
I looked around the audience; we were all hooked. What in the world would these bizarre players do next?
No actors are credited to characters. They are an ensemble, and present themselves as a team that works together with incredible energy and rapport. As a team, they are standout performers.
At times, the theater critic in me extracted parable-like messages from Lapsburgh’s story. But I wouldn’t recommend this. Please just go, and have a really fun time at this non-political, non-dirty, evening of comedy.
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