Space 55's Seven Minutes in Heaven Just Doesn't Make Out

A naked septuagenarian stuffs a boiled egg into his left armpit. A woman wearing plastic butterfly wings reads a dour poem, then torches a five-dollar bill. Three drunk guys shave off one another's body hair.

This is Space 55 Theatre's Seven Minutes in Heaven, a collection of unvetted short skits, blackouts, and interminable improvisations, and the kind of show that signals the end of the theater season and the beginning of a long summer of also-ran entertainment.

I liked this show's conceit — a dozen quick bits of theater lasting seven minutes or less — better than its execution. What I saw reminded me of a lot of the performance art I saw downtown in the '80s, without the angst or most of the fun. The opening bit, by a maddeningly untalented improv duo called Die Puppet Die, involved a pair of Muppet knock-offs blathering about pineapple pizza and repeating the mantra "God's ass is tropical!" An amusing performance by local musician-of-sorts Tom Tuerff about songs that should never be played on a Japanese autoharp was nearly trumped by its follow-up, in which an annoyingly smug fellow read a poem about the chupacabra and then sang a tunelessly offensive number called "I'm Not Retarded." (When will people stop making fun of the differently abled?)

Pit stop: What passes for entertainment this week at Space 55.
Kevin Patterson
Pit stop: What passes for entertainment this week at Space 55.

Details

Seven Minutes in Heaven continues through June 26 at 636 E. Pierce St. Call 602-881-0280 or visit www.space55.org.

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Amazingly, this wasn't the most horrible seven minutes of the evening. That honor belonged to Will Hightower, who is either the world's worst stand-up comic or a very clever mimic of same. His closest competition came from the men with the electric razors and the old guy, who started out wearing a kilt and a plaid shirt and ended up ruining everyone's night by taking them both off.

In between these appallingly lackluster routines were more lackluster routines and a couple of high points that saved the evening from utter ruin: A young woman sang a song she'd written about her father's death, and members of Scorpius dance troupe did an asses-only routine to a scratchy recording of "Hernando's Hideaway." All of this was emceed by actor Bob Fisher, whose affable manner was a delight and whose ad-libbed "Are those new shoes?" (asked of the naked man as he exited the stage) provided the evening's funniest moment.

There's a chance you will like Seven Minutes better than I did, either because you have lower expectations of live performance or because the lineup is subject to change from week to week. Perhaps you'll visit Heaven on a night when its lesser elements have been replaced with bigger amusements. If not, it's still better than an evening of murder mystery dinner theater. Sort of.

 
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