Casey Ross Productions is presenting the “extended cut” of Ross’s 2009 IndyFringe short, Tortillo! It’s the story of employees at a snack-foods company who become caught up in a drug-smuggling, hallucinogenic-potato-chip scheme.
The show relies on a lot of crass slapstick and dick jokes. One of the main characters, Steve, played by Matt Anderson, is the image of an ADHD frat boy 15 years too old. His more practical but awkward best friend, Dave, played by Robert Webster Jr., is manhandled (literally and figuratively) into his best friend’s Tasmanian-devil-like tirades. Flanking them are Ted (Tristan Ross), a gratingly cheerful fellow employee and chip fanatic, and Patrick (Davey Pelsue), a stereotypical nerd and Steve’s intern. The most normal of the group is Dave’s crush, Juniper (Lisa Marie Smith).
Ross also directs the play, and while the over-the-top affectations of Ted and Steve are funny at first, Ross has these characters taking it too far for too long. They become painful to watch, and the physical gags lose their impact. An accidental daisy chain isn’t as shocking when it lasts over a minute. Toning down the scenery chewing would give the jokes room to breathe; instead, they are force-fed to the audience. DO YOU GET IT?! HAHA! IT’S FUNNY!
Smith is the only one who is not portraying a caricature, so she stands out, but also believable is Pelsue. He gets to exhibit some acting finesse, but I can’t say how because spoilers.
Hugh S. Dehman has a cameo as the big bad, Sombrero, and Brian Kennedy as John the janitor enters the last act in a somewhat unsatisfying deus ex machina sort of way. (Keep your ears open for John’s alter-identity.)
Tortillo! continues through Jan 16 at the IndyFringe theater. For information, go to indyfringe.org.