Laugh­ter in the dark Ron Bloomberg’s three one-act plays at Ware­house 21

Pasatiempo - - NEWS -

IF news head­lines are get­ting you down and all you want is a good belly laugh, then a trio of high­one-acts con­cept comedic co-cre­ated and di­rected by vet­eran tele­vi­sion writer Ron Bloomberg might be just what you need to fix your dol­drums. “It’s dis­as­trous out there,” Bloomberg told Pasatiempo . “Ev­ery­one thinks so. We’re hop­ing this helps.”

For 25 years, Bloomberg wrote for sit­u­a­tion come­dies in­clud­ing Three’s Com­pany , Gimme a Break! , 227 , and Home Im­prove­ment be­fore mov­ing to New Mex­ico. He codi­rected Other Peo­ple’s Money at the Santa Fe Play­house in 2012, and in 2014 di­rected Ali MacGraw in a staged read­ing of a new work he wrote called The Queen of

Madi­son Av­enue . Both of those plays were “try­ing to say some­thing,” he ex­plained, but now he’s ap­ply­ing his satir­i­cal sense of hu­mor to borderline-ab­sur­dist scripts rich with Santa Fe de­tail. Se­ri­ously Funny! , which opens on Fri­day, March 20, at Ware­house 21, fea­tures Un­real Housewives of Santa Fe , Guess Who’s Com­ing to Santa Fe , and We the Peo­ple and stars some of the city’s most rec­og­niz­able per­son­al­i­ties from lo­cally pro­duced film, tele­vi­sion, and theater, in­clud­ing De­bri­anna Mansini, Robyn Reede, and J.D. Garfield.

Though early drafts of the plays date back a few years, the show as a whole came to­gether re­cently. “Last fall we booked Ware­house 21 for five per­form­ing dates in March, and at that time I had no idea what I was go­ing to put in here,” Bloomberg said. “It’s Santa Fe, and I needed a dead­line, so I made a dead­line.”

Un­real Housewives of Santa Fe , which was co-writ­ten by Den­nis Car­roll (a fre­quent con­trib­u­tor to The New

Mex­i­can ), is a par­ody of Bravo Net­work’s re­al­ity-show fran­chise. The shows spot­light a hand­ful of spoiled, rich women from a given city — New York, Bev­erly Hills, and At­lanta, among other lo­cales. Bloomberg con­sid­ers them the worst pro­grams on TV. The types skew­ered in his play closely re­sem­ble the types that are usu­ally par­o­died as rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the City Dif­fer­ent, in­clud­ing a Texas trans­plant with money to burn; a dippy, judg­men­tal New Ager; a Latina re­lated to ev­ery­one in town; an overe­d­u­cated real es­tate agent with un­bear­able Euro­pean pre­ten­tions; and a New York na­tive whose hus­band’s fi­nan­cial deal­ings have landed the cou­ple in the fed­eral wit­ness-pro­tec­tion pro­gram. The ladies lunch at up­scale eater­ies and soothe their spir­its at 9,000 Waves Spa while not so slyly in­sult­ing one an­other. “This be­gan as a sketch, and I think we de­vel­oped it into some­thing be­tween a sketch and a play. It’s a to­tally out­ra­geous plot in that there is none, so don’t look for one,” Bloomberg said. “It’s to­tally an out-and-out romp.”

In We the Peo­ple , a woman who is a staunch Demo­crat and look­ing for love is spon­ta­neously fixed up on the Plaza by her friend, but the man turns out to be a mem­ber — and em­ployee — of the Grand Old Party. “I wrote this one in 2005, and when I looked at it again, and looked around, noth­ing was dif­fer­ent and there were barely any changes to make,” Bloomberg said. The pair’s at­trac­tion to each other is pal­pa­ble, but it’s tough to say whether their witty ban­ter and grow­ing sex­ual ten­sion can sur­mount po­lit­i­cal ide­ol­ogy. It’s an old-fash­ioned meet-cute in the spirit of It Hap­pened One Night or Bring­ing Up Baby , only shorter.

In Guess Who’s Com­ing to Santa Fe , which Bloomberg wrote just weeks ago, Paul and Nora have re­cently moved to Santa Fe, where they are so happy they reg­u­larly sing show tunes to­gether in their living room. But now they must en­dure a visit from the ac­quain­tances who drove them out of Chicago in the first place. “I think ev­ery­one in the au­di­ence will iden­tify with this story,” Bloomberg said. The Lumkins are ter­ri­ble, the types to com­plain that the drive to Chaco Canyon took 15 min­utes longer from down­town than their GPS said it would. They re­fer to ca­sitas as “loli­tas.” A visit would be bad enough, but soon the Lumkins de­cide to move here, which is a prob­lem be­cause Nora and Paul are ter­ri­ble at set­ting bound­aries and would rather move again than ad­mit they don’t want to spend any more time with them.

Se­ri­ously Funny! takes its cue from the sit­coms Bloomberg honed his skills on in the 1980s. He be­lieves that comedic plays are more likely to be pro­duced th­ese days than se­ri­ous, thought-pro­vok­ing drama, be­cause the best dra­matic writ­ing is now hap­pen­ing on tele­vi­sion. “They’re call­ing it a golden age,” he said. “A play­wright is re­ally com­pet­ing with such se­ries as The So­pra­nos , Break­ing Bad , House of Cards , and Home­land . With com­edy, you stand a slightly bet­ter chance. With the crazi­ness of the world to­day, we can all use a laugh.”

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