If the title of Broom Street Theatre's latest production Just Sit Right Back and You'll Hear a Tale starts you humming about a tiny ship and a three-hour tour, raise your remote proudly: You are a true American. According to first-time writer/ director Doug Reed, classic TV is a far better influence than the progress-obsessed frontier myths that Americans are force-fed from childhood.
The plot is a loose allegory for how we as a people are indoctrinated into our national myths. As a boy, Tom (Nick Kaprelian) was branded as a 'doubter' ' literally ' for daring to question the validity of Paul Bunyan folklore. In contrast, Tom's former classmate JoEllen (Deanna Reed), a devoted believer in the big forest-hacking icon, has become an executive at a greedy development corporation named Bunyancorp. After JoEllen's misguided zeal for progress threatens to destroy an entire town, Tom brings salvation to a group of wounded, angry survivors ' via one well-known TV theme song.
Just Sit Right Back takes the well-worn conventions of television and injects them with cheerful irony. Schmaltzy music, broadly drawn characters, and addictively slick pacing are all used to hilarious effect. Scene follows scene faster than you could flip the channel, with morals so deeply buried in absurdity that there is never a hint of preaching.
Reed's clever writing is boosted by inspired performances from the cast, including Johnson Lo as a doomed insurance adjuster, Damon Butler as Bunyancorp's manic CEO, and Molly Vanderlin as The Storyteller, whose assured swagger and devilish half-smile suggest that while things are sliding downhill, we might as well enjoy the ride. Balancing vulnerability and compassion with the farcical storyline, the 'castaways' manage to convince the audience that there is hope for us all...and it may be waiting in our living rooms.