Smitty Harbinger, the attendant in a guard house and operator of barrier gates, enters with too many things to hold in his hands, including a cup of hot coffee. He is jugging how to get his keys out without spilling the coffee—and oops! Now he has to figure out how to dry his shoes and socks.
It’s a place that likely feels familiar to most of the adults in the room. We’ve been there doing such balancing acts—and also tangling with folding chairs that seem immune to opening, adhesive tape rolls that don’t have a beginning, holes in socks big enough to let your foot exit as you try to put them on, sneezing at the dust in the dust pan, trying to hold an overstuffed three-ring binder that spills out its contents, or making sense of an inscrutable electrical cabinet, and more. From these mundane launch points playwright and actor Tim Campos uses his clown energy to catapult us into forgetting the big bad world out there and just having a good laugh.
And laugh we did. Some of us seemed to be four years old, others 70 or so, and many in between. We were all laughing equally it seemed, though perhaps at different touch points.
For an hour or so, we are all immersed in the word-free lovable antics of everyman Smitty Harbinger as he goes through near Herculean struggles to tame obstacles of the everyday.
Directed by Silent Theatre ensemble member Tonika Todorov, this one-man show was written and acted by Tim Campos, whose funny faces and moves are animated by pianist /music man Elliot Taggart. Taggart’s piano keys are sometimes background affect music but then become the sounds of bumble bees or flies, or angry patrons wanting Smitty to pull the gate up.
It seems simple at first, but by play’s end you realize that the set by Grant Sabin is so central to the story it almost is the second character on the stage.
Silent Theatre is a Chicago Theater Standout
With their apt slogan—“Silent Theatre Company seeks to create a universal language one gesture at a time.”, it strikes this Chicago theater enthusiast that Silent Theatre is probably one of the most under-recognized gems lighting up our stages.
This production is likely headed to Detroit in the upcoming months too.
Highly Recommended --- for all ages.
Written and performed by Tim Campos
Directed by ensemble member Tonika Todorova
Music by Elliot Taggart
Set Design by Grant Sabin
For more information on Silent Theatre and their upcoming productions visit the Silent Theatre website.
Photos courtesy of Silent Theatre.