August is traditionally a slow month for theater. Once you’ve seen Wicked and now that Park Square’s summer mystery Holmes & Watson has closed you might be wondering what else is there to do. Well look no further than Brave New Workshop’s latest, This Show is Cheaper Than Gas – America on Empty. Does the state of our country, everything from the price of gas to the supreme court have you feeling sick to your stomach? Well if, as they say, laughter is the best medicine, then Brave New Workshop has what you need to fix what ails you. This Show is Cheaper... is so hysterically funny it just might cure cancer. I’d like to say that you’ll forget we live in a country controlled by rich white men who play lip service to the addle minded and religious extremists in order to ensure they continue to widen the wealth gap. But that isn’t the case, instead they are going to keep reminding you of it, but in the most humorous way possible. It’s a sketch show that skewers everything from musical theater to Clarence Thomas.
This is the companies second show back post covid and after being acquired by The Hennepin Theatre Trust, a move which should allow it to carry on for years to come, maintaining it’s tradition as the longest running comedy theatre in the United States. I was able to review their first show post pandemic as well, and while it was really fun I was left with the disappointment of not seeing Lauren Anderson perform as she was out the night I attended. Artistic Director Caleb McEwen, filled in for her and was great, but Anderson was the cast member whose work I knew from my first months of reviewing, when I saw her at my first Twin Cities Horror Festival as the Leader of a cult called the Oasis in Nissa Nordland Morgan’s Incarnate. This time I got to see Anderson and she did not disappoint. Whether it’s playing a version of herself as the bitter veteran of over 50 consecutive Brave New Workshop shows, or as the owner of a gasoline boutique, she had the audience eating out of her hand. I could gush about her all day really but I want to also acknowledge her costars. First up Denzel Belin, who just did an amazing job directing the MN Fringe show He-Man Is The Devil & Other Satanic Panic Tales, reminds us he’s equally talented on stage as he is backstage. He has several standout characters such as Clarence Thomas, who makes a wonderful transformation thanks to the combined efforts of the other performers as various elements of a woman’s anatomy. Doug Neithercott for me is the master of the reaction, watch him when the others are performing or you are missing half the joke. He’s great as a game show host for, if I remember the title correctly, “If you’re Woke you’re Broke.” Rounding out the cast making her debut is Isabella Dunsieth, who fit right in with her three BNW veterans. She deserves to return, she’s proven herself worthy to tread these hallowed comedy boards.
I really cannot recommend this show enough, this is a great night out with friends or family. Very funny, very topical, but don’t let that scare you. If you, like many of us, have taken a break from trying to keep up to date on every little bit of news, you’ll be fine. They stick to the proud strokes of what’s been happening, because frankley, that gives them more than enough material. This is a delightful mix of smart and silly, witty and absurd, and like all great sketch comedy it’s being performed by actors who know how to make characters distinct and memorable. For more information and to purchase tickets got to https://bravenewworkshop.org/this-show-is-cheaper-than-gas-america-on-empty/ .
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