‘Pickle My Monkey’ at Maryland Ensemble Theatre by Mike Spain

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FOUR AND A HALF STARS
Maryland Ensemble Theatre’s World Premiere of Pickle My Monkey is daring, wacky, funny, and entertaining. Written by Maryland Ensemble Theatre’s company members Lisa Burl, Kevin Cole, and Matt Lee, the acting is top notch, the effects are amazing at times, and hilarious at other times. Three new original songs by Jack Evans turn the comedy into a show complete with sex, drugs, and rock and roll! It’s a little long but it’s a fun time.

Lee and Cole. Photo by Tad Janes.
Matt Lee and Kevin Cole. Photo by Tad Janes.

The show starts with Jack Evans (Bobby) performing “Its All Good as the World Crumbles Around Us, ” as he begins playing one chord at a time and the song then builds momentum.(His other songs “Tori’s Games” played to start the second act and a sweet song Evans sings to Burl at the end of the show are equally wonderful). Evans delivers a believable and wacky performance.

The story is all over the place. Apparently Bobby had a one night stand with Tori (Courtney McLaughlin) after a night of blackout drinking with friends. The story starts with his roommate Hank (Matt Lee) talking about the night before. The other characters are revealed later on and include his other roommate Jeff (Kevin Cole), and his longtime girlfriend Chloe (Lisa Burl).

Director Tad Janes gets great performances from his hardworking cast. McLlaughlin gives an emotional and high-energy performance, and perfectly portrays the manipulating and head-playing Tori, who gets involved with everyone on the stage (except for Sasha (Thomas Scholtes). Lee portrays the ‘confused’ and self-destructive Hank, and delivers a multi-level powerful performance. Cole is hysterical as the awkward and conspiracy-filled roommate. Burl takes us on a strange ride as Chloe and is often hysterical. These characters go through so many twist and turns that I commend them for their high-energy performances.

Without giving too much away – there is a black light Matrix-style fight between Lee and Cole which is hilarious and which sent the audience into a frenzy. And yes, we are introduced to the Pickle Monkey in the second half and he is quite verbose.

Jack Evans and Lisa Burl. Photo by Joe Williams.
Jack Evans and Lisa Burl. Photo by Joe Williams.

Doug Grove does an excellent job with the lights throughout the show, bringing wonderful effects when the Pickle Monkey speaks and particularly in a psychedelic scene.

Filled with great performances and great songs, Maryland Ensemble Theatre has created an original, fun, and daring comedy. Pickle My Monkey is a real ‘dilly’ of a ride.

Running Time: Two hours, with one 15- minute intermission.

pickle poster

Pickle My Monkey runs through June 9, 2013 at Maryland Ensemble Theatre – 31 West Patrick Street, in Frederick, MD. For tickets, call the box office (301) 694-4744, or order them online.