At nearly three hours, the show drags when it should dazzle.
Broom Street Theater's Tales from the Dork Side is a prime example of what the Broom Street people do well: fill their little Willy Street space with an overload of craziness. Written and directed by Brian Wild, Tales abounds in funny antics, to the point of the production getting a little lost in the spaces between the laughs.
On opening night, the audience guffawed at legitimately funny moments and, other times, at the strangeness of what was unfolding onstage. Grown-up conjoined twins with too-tight shorts and wandering eyes? Check. Killer clowns? Check. A woman storing troll dolls in the bust of her bridal gown? Check.
When grumpy comic book creator Scott Herrick (Matt Kenyon) receives a mysterious letter naming him heir to a great fortune, he and his friends pack up to spend a weekend in a spooky mansion. He's greeted by a motley bunch of relatives he's never heard of -- among them a cowgirl, a jilted bride, and those very creepy conjoined twins -- who engage him in a treasure hunt. From there, it's no surprise that things start going bump in the night, giving Scott and company a weekend they'll never forget.
The script, while intensely clever at times, would benefit from another thorough edit. This show has the potential to dazzle theatergoers and leave them wanting more. However, it's too long, plain and simple. At nearly three hours (start to finish, including intermission) the show drags when it should dazzle and all the killer clowns in the world can't fix that. In a run time of, say, two hours, Tales would likely feel more polished.
Still, there are some brilliant moments. Scott is sweating under a deadline when his comic book comes to life. As he draws, a pearlescent-panted Lightning tries to save the Phantom Princess and Destructo from sluggish Saturnian Bore Beetles. Everyone's interrupted by Scott's ringing phone and the Phantom Princess takes a smoke break while she waits for Scott's pencil to start moving. This comic book sub-plot is perhaps the most viable of the different storylines in Tales from the Dork Side. The relationships between the characters parallel those of Scott's life, and it's through his comic strip that the audience gets to see who Scott is trying to be in his real life...a superhero.
The transitions between clownish and poignant come and go quickly in Tales, and the weird mix of humor and seriousness can be perplexing. Scott's change of heart happens late in the play when he realizes his bizarre relatives are important pieces of his life. His epiphany is a crucial part of what Brian Wild is striving for in his play, but without being adequately tempered with funniness, it seems out-of-place amidst a carnival of slapstick, pie-in-the-face humor.
Across the board, the performers -- most of whom are Broom Street regulars -- are well-cast and deliver enthusiastic and convincing performances. Kenyon's take on Scott is a bit too serious, but engaging none-the-less. As Sylvia, matriarch of the Herrick clan, Siobhan Edge is consistent and quirky -- giving muted little meows as she sneaks sips of champagne from a rubber cat. The role of her sidekick Solomon is well done by versatile Ndig-0. Broom Street newcomer Alex Cotant sparkles as Lightning -- and I'm not just referring to his gleaming pants. He captures the crisp energy of a superhero with perfect timing and a strong presence on stage.