Things You Shouldn't Say After Midnight: A Comedy in Three Beds

For years, politicians and city planners sought ways to bring folks downtown after hours and keep them there. Now it's becoming apparent the role that theatre will play in city hall's new strategy. First, Mayor Hickenlooper makes a cameo appearance in Sylvia at John Ashton's newly relocated Avenue Theater, just 4 blocks East of Broadway on 17th Avenue, and then the ever-opportunistic Ashton adds a late show after Sylvia to keep folks in their seats. Clearly, the new administration is in league with one of Denver's most successful impresarios.

Ashton's latest venture, playwright Peter Ackerman's Things You Shouldn't Say After Midnight: A Comedy in Three Beds, mixes sexual situations with psycho-sociological commentary. The result is a consistently funny and relevant romp through the lives of three odd couples.

As the lights come up, the first bed we visit is that of Nancy and Ben. They've been enjoying each other's company for a while, and seem to be very compatible in bed as well, until, at the height of passion, Nancy lets go with an ethnic slur directed at Ben. Then it's time for a heart-to-heart.

Shelly Bordas plays Nancy with physical and emotional abandon, careening through sex and conversation as if the world were about to end at any moment. When Nancy's unfortunate climactic outburst jolts Ben out of his reverie, Bordas effortlessly backs up and races Nancy off in another direction, heedless of the consequences, maintaining her grip on reality by creatively interpreting the events.

Ben is the opposite, a rationalist. He calmly and logically talks circles around Nancy's unexamined excuses, but to no avail. Edward Pagac's calm, engaging characterization makes him the natural voice of reason at the center of a growing, and increasingly outrageous, series of sexual dalliances and misunderstandings.

Photo of Jodi Brinkman as Grace and Joseph Miller as Gene
Jodi Brinkman as Grace
and Joseph Miller as Gene
In the next bed, we have Grace and Gene. Gene doesn't have a lot to say in his line of work as a gun-for-hire, so he's looking for a little conversation; Grace doesn't want to hear it, she just wants it. Joseph Miller, a hit man for the second time at the Avenue (Tony in Faithful), couldn't be more convincing as Gene, whose gruff exterior hides a sensitive but uneducated, straight-up regular guy.

Grace is a gorgeous, smart professional, who is tired of hooking up with boys. To her, Gene is not only a man, but one with an exciting vocation. Jodi Brinkman's Grace is a she-cat supreme. She circles Gene, ready to devour him, making us wish that we were a hit man with no penchant for talk. But talk he does, saying some things he shouldn't after midnight. Grace screams in frustration, and Brinkman makes us feel it: What's a worldly woman with other-worldly desires to do?

When Nancy shows up at her door, Grace gets to apply some of her pent-up energy on fixing her friend's problems. She suggests calling Mark, Gene's gay younger brother, who is a relationship counselor. But Mark is in the middle of a tryst with Donald, the latest in a line of elderly gentlemen who are Mark's preference.

Chuck Rahill's Mark is a polished multi-tasker, able to juggle sex and therapy simultaneously. His partner, the dapper Jack Casperson as Donald, is a sophisticated foil to everything that Nancy fears. When it all comes out in the wash, the tables turn in a most unexpected and thoroughly entertaining manner.

The Avenue Theater's snappy Things You Shouldn't Say After Midnight has been extended and will keep folks downtown after midnight through March 19th. Call the box office for times. 303-321-5925.

Bob Bows


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