‘Worst Case Scenario’ at Single Carrot Theatre by Amanda Gunther

FOUR AND A HALF STARS
So you think you’re going to see a show at Single Carrot Theatre? Ha. Ha. Ha. Worst Case Scenario: You get into your car all ready to drive into Baltimore City for a hilarious night at the theatre. Your low-fuel indicator light comes on halfway through the drive. As you pull onto Charles Street a car driven by someone way too old to be driving taps into your back bumper and you surge forward into the SUV in front of you. With the hood of your car crumpled and engine smoking you get of the car and step into on-coming traffic, which serves to avoid you. Several cars spin manically in various directions, one of which slams into the front of the theatre building. An outcropping of furious actors pours out into the street hungry for your blood now that your Worst Case Scenario has wrecked months of their hard work. Sound like a comic riot? Then you might just be in for a treat with this sketch comedy show written by Single Carrot company members and cast, and directed by Jessica Garrett.

"Diane Diane" (l to r) Mike Smith and Jenna Rossman. Photo by Britt Olsen-Ecker Photography.

“Diane Diane” (l to r) Mike Smith and Jenna Rossman. Photo by Britt Olsen-Ecker Photography.

A deviation from their usual productions in the sense that it’s a series of brief humorous sketches rather than a full-length play, this original creation does maintain the overall mission of the theatre: making you question and think. There are several sketches throughout that really put your noggin to the test in a good way – making you wonder if you should laugh and wonder why the people around you are laughing. While the humor in places may be warped and twisted— and not everyone’s cup of tea – there is a little something for everyone.

Set Designer Michael Varelli crafts a uniquely comforting interior for both the play space and the audience. Transforming the space into a “lounge” of sorts, complete with mismatched couches and comfy chairs (and the very clever use of upturned music stands for tables) Varelli sets the audience at ease so that they can more fully enjoy the show. With a bar at the back of the house— to be visited throughout if patrons so choose (the signature cocktail is whiskey!) and a few pillows to spare there is a modicum of swanky charm infused into Varelli’s house design. The stage itself is particularly clever with its revolving door made out of literal doors. Varelli has constructed four doors onto an axle to create a pun in this set structure that works exceedingly well when it comes to adding laughs to cast entrances and exits.

Director Jessica Garrett keeps the flow of the show moving. The jokes land with a solidarity that speaks volumes of her understanding of comic timing. Garrett hones the focus of the performance to its ensemble balanced nature, making sure that everyone feels like a part of the group rather than having featured performers with supporting players. The best overall execution of sketches comes from the title’s namesake, where a “worst case scenario” is described, rolling down the line of performers often with words being spoken in unison. They become the unifying framework for this production that both opens and closes the show; a unique and highly comic approach to giving the audience a twisted taste of what’s in store.

The other unifying sketch that recurs throughout the piece is the Open Mic Night at the Hospital sketch featuring Jack Sossman as the main doctor who invites patients and doctors (of varying degrees of wellness and sanity) up to the microphone to perform. Loaded with bad jokes and poor puns, this also becomes an amusing sketch.

Each of the sketches plays to the performers strengths throughout the show. Jenna Rossman has a charming knack for accents and gets to utilize several of them in various scenes, each one different and clearly distinctive from the former. Elliott Rauh and Jack Sossman tend to rely a bit more on the aspects of ‘dirty humor’ in their sketches, augmenting these ‘bad-taste’ ideas and really pushing the envelope with them. Casey Garner and Giti Jabaily are woven into sketches that feature their reactionary responses, often wildly hilarious particularly the grieving widow character constructed by Jabaily in a scene shared with Rauh. Mike Smith dabbles a little bit in each of these specialties, his strongest suit being his comic delivery and sharp understanding of how to land a joke.

Moment of the show (at least for the WCS Fan) is the Ravens’ Broadcast segment, featuring Elliott Rauh and Mike Smith where they poke fun at Joe Flacco, impersonate Ray Rice, and have an overall rip-roaring good time at the Ravens’ expense (as any true Ravens fan can totally appreciate and understand this season).

"Coke" (l to r) Jack Sossman and Elliott Rauh. Photo by  Britt Olsen-Ecker Photography.

“Coke” (l to r) Jack Sossman and Elliott Rauh. Photo by
Britt Olsen-Ecker Photography.

Worst Case Scenario is well worth investigating, especially if you’d like a holiday chuckle that’s a bit off-color this season.

Running Time: Approximately 70 minutes, with no intermission.

Worst Case Scenario plays through December 21, 2013 at Single Carrot Theatre— 1727 North Charles Street, in Baltimore, MD. For tickets, call the box office at (443) 844-9253, or purchase them online.

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