Review: ‘Pitch Perfect’ at Central Works (*)

(Charles Kruger)

(Rating: *)

This reviewer is a voting associate member of the San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle (SFBATCC)
This reviewer is a voting associate member of the San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle (SFBATCC)

(“Pitch Perfect” plays at Central Works in Berkeley July 13 through August 18, 2013)

There are certainly a few witty lines in Martin Edwards’ send up of the world of ad agencies, “Pitch Perfect”. And the capable cast (especially Brian Trybom, making his Central Works debut) does their best to make this material work. Unfortunately, however, the pitch is off in this shallow piece. Focussed on writing clever gag lines, Mr. Edwards has failed to look beyond the surface of his story, leaving motivations unclear and settling for caricature over character.

Perhaps this production would play better in Los Angeles, as many (too many) of the clever lines are insider Hollywood jokes, including references to traffic on the 405 freeway, a gag about the absurdity of a Shakespearean actor in Los Angeles and a joke about film director Frank Capra. These are such easy targets that the jokes fall flat like the efforts of an inexperienced stand up comedian. This impression is not helped by a number of additional gags of questionable taste including one about “the fat girl with the salami” and several “fag jokes” (forgive the term, but that’s what they are).

Tim Redmond and Deb Fink in "Pitch Perfect" at Central Works. Photo Credit: Central Works.
Tim Redmond and Deb Fink in “Pitch Perfect” at Central Works. Photo Credit: Central Works.

Although it is difficult to get past the problems with this production, there is the kernel of a good idea here. The story of the wunderkind copy writer who refuses to grow up could be explored with more sensitivity and depth. The writer seems to have been too intent on successfully working a formula—the regularity of the jokes is almost metronomic, not growing organically out of the situation but seeming to be stuck on like so many questionably tasteful accessories.

“Pitch Perfect” was developed in Central Works’ Writers Workshop which develops plays over a twelve week session. It may be that this was simply not enough time to solve all the problems. Hopefully, future incarnations will be much improved.

For further information, click here.

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“Pitch Perfect” by Martin Edwards, world premiere produced by Central Works. Director: Gary Graves. Costumes: Tammy Berlin. Lights: Gary Graves. Sound: Gregory Scharpen. 

Maggie: Deb Fink. Caitlin: Maggie Mason. Roger: Tim Redmond. Bob: Brian Trybom. Brad/Pete/Hans: Alan Smithee.

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