PlayPenn 2015 concluded last week, and while I’m normally a ravenous attendee, haunting all the readings and annoying Paul Meshejian like nobody’s business, I only made it to one this year. I reserved a ticket to see James Ijames’ latest masterwork, but my niece and nephew showed up from out of town, wanting to see a Lego exhibit. You know how it goes.
The reading I did make it to was Eric Pfeffinger’s, entitled Human Error. It dealt with a couple of tree-hugging, wine-swilling, Obama-loving Marx-monkeys who are undergoing an in-vitro procedure and whose fetus—through a clerical error—is inadvertently implanted in a gun-toting, Limbaugh-loving, racial-profiling Reagan-zombie. Comedy ensues.
To be honest, this play was not at the top of my list to see, but I had a good time drinking with the playwright at the PlayPenn gala last year, so I thought I’d check it out and support him and offer him a drink of bourbon from my flask. I was glad I went. Sure, it had the tropes you expect: the oversized pickup truck in the driveway, the gun collection, the over-educated husband with a job in a lab that studies comedy. But it delved a lot deeper into some uncomfortable territory. The conservative couple had decided, early-on, and to the relief of the liberal couple, to take the baby to term. Would the liberal couple have done the same if their situations were reversed? And if the conservative couple is doing it strictly for religious reasons, can you really call it noble?
And it was funny. I don’t want you think it was this two-hour moral-fest. It was funny with disturbing points (kind of like Thanksgiving at my house, without the tears and accusations). Sure, it needed work, but that’s what readings are all about. Anyway, I’m glad I went, sorry I couldn’t see more this year, happy to say hi to Eric.
Side-note…before the show, I grabbed a sandwich and a couple of beers at a place on the corner with an outdoor bar and some tables. Since I was alone, I sat at the bar, and in the hour I hung out, it filled up. Fifteen minutes before I left, a guy tapped me on the shoulder and asked if I could shuffle down a seat so he and his buddy could sit together. I said no problem and slid my stuff down the bar. The guy was so impressed that I did it without any fuss, he bought me a shot of tequila. The three of us downed our drinks and shot the bull for the few minutes before I had to leave. He turned out to be an engineer for SEPTA (Philly’s public transportation system) whose wife taught fashion design at Drexel University. He knew nothing about theater, and when I told him what I was doing there, he hit me with all sorts of fascinating questions. I only mention this because I found the whole thing really classy and told him so. And maybe, if you’re having a bad day, this story will restore some shred of your faith in humanity.