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B Street Theatre regulars David Pierini, left, and Jason Kuykendal star in "A Masterpiece of Comic ... Timing."
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B Street Comes Close to a Masterpiece

Setting your sights high is a good thing, but announcing your goal in the title of your new play may not be such a good idea. What if you fail to hit the mark?

Luckily, Robert Caisley’s “A Masterpiece of Comic…Timing,” now receiving its world premiere at B Street Theatre, comes close to living up to its name.

The play is a comedy about writing a theatrical comedy. And it manages to make all the setbacks and difficulties of the job — how do you get a depressed and melancholy playwright to see humor in anything? — very funny.

Some of its setups and jokes are imaginative and laugh-out-loud funny, while some are almost groan-inducing, painfully obvious. But here’s the saving grace: The timing is impeccable. And for that, you can thank director Buck Busfield, who hits every note perfectly, knowing when to linger over a laugh and when to hit it and quit it.

The action takes place in 1963 in the Royal Palms Hotel in Scottsdale, Arizona. A nervous Broadway producer, Jerry Cobb (played by B Street regular David Pierini) and his assistant, Charlie Bascher (newcomer Andy Lee-Hillstrom) are trying to turn one-hit wonder playwright Danny “Nebraska” Jones into a two-hitter. Jones is played by B Street’s Jason Kuykendall, who is hilarious from the moment he appears on stage in a wheelchair, clutching an old typewriter. He doesn’t just have writer’s block, he has life block — no desire to do anything but mourn his failures and losses.

Producer Cobb, learning that his playwright has recently broken up with actress girlfriend Nola Hart (Elisabeth Nunziato, channeling Judy Holliday in all her dumb blonde — or in this case, redhead — glory), brings her to town as “inspiration.”

The other character in this farce is the hotel suite itself. A malfunctioning heating and air conditioning system alternately encourages heatstroke or frostbite. Ice cubes melt and you’d better like your coffee iced. Visual gags abound here.

“A Masterpiece of Comic … Timing” is a perfect B Street comedy, and if it isn’t a masterpiece it’s pretty darn close. It’s a guaranteed crowd-pleaser.

“A Masterpiece of Comic … Timing” is performed through April 17 at 6:30 p.m. Tuesdays, 2 and 6:30 p.m. Wednesdays , 8 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays, 5 and 9 p.m. Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays at B Street Theatre Mainstage, 2711 B St. Tickets are $23-$35 ($5 student rush tickets available). To purchase tickets, or for more information: (916) 443-5300 or bstreettheatre.org.

Photo: B Street Theatre regulars David Pierini, left, and Jason Kuykendal star in “A Masterpiece of Comic … Timing.” By Rudy Meyers.


About the author

Jim Carnes

Jim Carnes

Jim Carnes has masters degrees in English and journalism and is a former National Endowment for the Humanities Fellow in popular culture at Stanford University. He has covered Sacramento arts and entertainment for more than 20 years. He currently writes about and reviews theater, dance, music and events in the Sacramento area.

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