Sunday, September 27, 2009

"First Day of School": ☼ ☼ ☼ BANG BANG PLUS!

It really makes sense that Billy Aronson's new comedy "First Day of School" is having its World Premiere at San Francisco Playhouse. This very funny, completely off-the-wall farce is the kind of play San Francisco Playhouse does best. The author was too shy to be introduced to the audience before the show on Opening Night, but he was happy to stand up afterwards, as the raucously belly-laughing audience roared its approval.

The set-up is that David (Bill English) and Susan (Zehra Berkman) have just dropped off their two children at elementary school on the first day of the school semester. Realizing they now have nothing planned for the rest of the day, Susan suggests they follow through with their idea to go have sex with other people, who just happen to be the parents of the other children in the school.

Susan has her eyes on Peter (Jackson Davis)...

...and David is thinking about Kim (Marcia Pizzo)...

...and Alice (Stacy Ross).

Eventually, everyone says yes.

But like Maria Muldaur once said, it ain't the meat, it's the motion. The convoluted measures that Peter, Kim and Alice have to take in order to feel comfortable with this new arrangement, which is so perfectly natural to David and Susan but fraught with impossible angst for the other three, lead to three terrific soliloquies at the beginning of Act One, back to back. Peter's, which lasts at least ten minutes, as he attempts to justify why he's going to actually consider thinking about perhaps agreeing to contemplate having sex with Susan, is an absolute classic. You can't stop squirming and you can't stop laughing, but it's the kind of laughter that comes with a desire to either hug Peter or shoot him.

Kim's discussion of her shower ain't chopped liver either.

We won't divulge the plot, but when Susan and David's baby-sitter Belinda (Tori Laher) shows up with her boyfriend Jonah (Myles Landberg), thinking the house is empty, the whole situation gets even crazier.

You've had it with sicko politicians disguising their peccadillos with lame excuses, haven't you? No excuses here, just a fabulous cast and an even better script. You want to see this play.


The San Francisco Theater Blog Awards Division awards "First Day of School" three stars with two BANGLES of PRAISE and a Special PLUS! The writing, acting and Chris Smith's perfect hands-off direction each rate a star. The first BANGLE is for Jackson Davis and Marcia Pizzo's soliloquies about how they won't but will have sex with David and Susan, and the second BANGLE is for Bill English's Color Man Sportscaster description of Peter, Alice and Kim groping on the couch. All English needs is a bad toupee and a mike.

The Special Plus!, rarely awarded, is granted for playwright Billy Aronson, who managed to sum the whole thing up in one mouthful: "It's all right for our bodies to do it, as long as our brains don't find out about it."

"First Day of School"
San Francisco Playhouse
533 Sutter Street, San Francisco
Through Nov. 7

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