The Pumpkin Pie Show: Seasick
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The Pumpkin Pie Show: Seasick—In brief
Clay McLeod Chapman (Hostage Song) continues his compelling storytelling series with a Halloween-ready tale of viral contagion aboard a luxury cruise ship. The cast includes the ever sharp Hanna Cheek; the music is by Kyle Jarrow.
The Pumpkin Pie Show: Seasick—Review by Helen Shaw
There's a deep joy, a deep sense of relief you get from watching a bunch of lovable idiots making each other crack up. It helps that the idiots are fantastic performers and their horror-drunk storytelling virtuoso master idiot is Clay McLeod Chapman, the blistering (in a good way) talent behind the Pumpkin Pie Show. Seasick is his ode to hell-ships, those cruise liners that limp into port with vomiting passengers and a decimated crew. Chapman adds a homicidal French chef serving his hallucinatory god (“I am Leviathan!”), but the terror invoked by the word norovirus needs no additional jus.
In one of the best craphole (I say it with affection!) theaters in New York, the Pumpkin Pie gang welcomes you onboard. Chapman plays the captain; naturally, he greets us at the door. The rest of the complement are also downtown luminaries: whiskey-voiced Hanna Cheek, Abe Goldfarb (a.k.a. the burlesque emcee Bastard Keith), aptly surnamed Fringe star Brian Silliman and sketch goddess Katie Hartman. Bad shit, if you will, almost immediately goes down. Chapman's Halloween-appropriate piece is a series of stories told by The Argonautica's increasingly desperate passengers: Silliman is the paterfamilias of the Pendletons, the family that may hold the ship's fate in its eight clutching hands, while Cheek plays the hysterical entertainment director belting out a karaoke hit (written with customary verve by Kyle Jarrow). Elsewhere on board, Hartman tries to keep a zombie-ish horde of barfing kids at bay, Goldfarb wrings excruciating vowels out of his fake French accent and Cap'n Chapman reminisces about a guy he once had to eat at sea.
Seasick is thoroughly marvelous and gross and peculiar, not to mention a cause for huge, unbecoming snorts of laughter. Very bad things happen to The Argonautica, but the show—bless it—will keep your week afloat.—Theater review by Helen Shaw