Some advice for seeing the play “Shear Madness” at Totem Pole Playhouse: Wear loose clothing. Much will be required of you by way of laughing; you may as well be comfortable.
Also, consider taking along a personal supply of oxygen to sustain you through the side-splitting laughter.
Wear your thinking cap. Yes, it’s funny, but it’s also a murder mystery. Unlike most murder mysteries, the cops ask the audience to help them solve the crime. How the play ends is up to them. Whomever they pick, the remaining clues and unfolding descend from that.
Be sure your physical dexterity is up to the task. You must be able to shake you head (as in: I don’t believe he/she just said that out loud!”) while laughing yourself hoarse.
“Shear Madness” may have the most puns and bad jokes done so well. This reviewer lost track of them and will not give any of them away.
However long the play takes, it’s not long enough.
Shear Madness takes place in the present day, which the humor reflects. (Hint: If political humor – fired off in all directions – upsets you, don’t be such a snowflake! It’s all in fun.)
The play is billed as one of the most popular stage comedies in the world. Much of the play is ad lib, so it’s never going to go the same way twice or end the same way twice. The night you go, it will likely be somebody else. If you see something that does not jibe with what you think you remember seeing, you’ll get your chance to stand up and tattle. Of course, the character on whom you tattle will likely get up and say mean things to you, but he or she is not allowed to come down and swat you. They have rules.
“Shear Madness” is directed by Totem Pole’s executive director, Rowan Joseph. Shane Partlow, just returned from a role as “tailor” in the Academy Award Winning “Green Book,” is a local favorite and so antic during his entire time on stage that he distracts the audience from what other characters may be up to (take that as a hint.)
Craig Benton plays Lt. Nick O’Brien, the detective in charge of finding the murderer, assisted enthusiastically, if not ably, by his assistant, Mikey Thomas, played definitely ably by Zack Powell. Between the two of them they try to figure out if the killer is Mrs. Elenor Shubert, socialite and lush, (Lisa McMillan), shady antiques dealer Eddie Lawrence (Christian Cardozo), Barbara DeMarco, flouncy hairdresser (Maryanne Piccolo), or the manic Tony Whitcomb (Partlow).
In the course of the play’s run, it will inevitably be all of them, at least once.
Go see it. See if you can help them get their man. Or woman.
“Shear Madness” is playing:
Wednesday, June 5 at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.
Thursday, June 6 at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.
Saturday, June 8 at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.
Sunday, June 9, at 2 p.m.
Tuesday, June 11 at 2 p.m.
Wednesday, June 12, at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.
Thursday, June 13 at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.
Saturday, June 15 at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.
Sunday, June 16 at 2 p.m.
To purchase tickets, visit https://totempoleplayhouse.secure.force.com/ticket, or call the box office at 717-352-2164.
The theater is located at 955 Golf Course Road, Fayetteville, between Gettysburg and Chambersburg.