Sam Toohey, Alex Seifert, Kasey Carlson-Gabe, John Smothers, Nicole Greenwood, Aaron Smith in Straight Outta The Nursery. Photo: Company Outcast
Straight Outta The Nursery
By Rachel Allen, Erin Miller, Charity Murphy, & Sam Toohey
Directed by Rachel Allen
A review by Keith Waits
Entire contents are copyright © 2022 by Keith Waits. All rights reserved.
There seems to be a lot of silliness in the air lately. I keep encountering it, and whimsy, and fun, in recent productions and exhibits. In my opinion, we can never have too much silliness, because absurdity is an essential tool for survival in dark and difficult times.
So huzzah for Straight Outta The Nursery, a cockamamie concoction of improvisation, adult takes on fairy tales, and political/social satire.
Mother Duck (a droll and sarcastic Sarah Mackell) introduces and sometimes participates in a series of sketches, each one an update on a classic children’s poem, song, or story: Georgie Porgie, The Wheels On The Bus, Rumplestiltskin, etc. The Old Woman Who LIved In A Shoe is visited by a corrupt social service worker, Georgie Porgie is called out for sexual harrassment, and If You’re Happy and You Know It becomea catalog of sensitivity to physical disability.
A scathing deconstruction of white privilege is also included, and an hysterical take on childhood trauma. That so much fun can be had with such issues is a testament to the wit in the writing and the enthusiasm of the ensemble. These are scripted sketches with a couple of improv slots and some vintage toy commercials interjected between. Most of the cast are regular improvisers and that seems to account for the loose, edgy, energy at work here. At the beginning there was stiffness and reticence in the playing, but this soon melted away as the cast relaxed and found joy in the work.
Exercising the most freedom in their work were Alex Seifert, Aaron Smith, & Sam Toohey, while Kasey Carlson-Gabe acquits herself admirably for this being her first time onstage (?). I last saw Jake Rosenberger on this stage dressed as a chupacabra so he may seem restrained here in comparison, but he has several fine moments, most particularly in the Peek-A-Boo sketch, which may have been my favorite.
But all of the ensemble deliver with such moments, and all get why silly is so important. The commentary enveloped in the silliness just serves to underscore why we need it so much. Taken together the satirical perspective highlights the attack on democracy that seems everpresent in the United States (and the World?), and that is perhaps the most absurd thing.
Is it reaching too far to stretch such “innocent” characters to fit the broad and very adult satirical tone of Straight Outta The Nursery? Fairy and folk tales are meant for such things; moral and behavioral lessons that weave into the social contract that keeps balance and sanity in our world.
Featuring Kasey Carlson-Gabe, Nicole Greenwood, Jake Rosenberger, Sarah Mackell, Alex Seifert, Aaron Smith, John Smothers, & Sam Toohey
Straight Outta The Nursery
August 4, 5, 6, 7, 11, 12, 13 & 14 @ 7:30 pm
The Bard’s Town
1801 Bardstown Road
Louisville, KY 40205
Keith Waits is a native of Louisville who works at Louisville Visual Art during the days, including being the host of LVA’s Artebella On The Radio on WXOX 97.1 FM / ARTxFM.com, but spends most of his evenings indulging his taste for theatre, music and visual arts. His work has appeared in LEO Weekly, Pure Uncut Candy, TheatreLouisville, and Louisville Mojo. He is now Managing Editor for Arts-Louisville.com.