I suspect there are few couples better to hang out with on the Baltimore Theater Scene than Alex and Olmsted. This small show, small only because it is running one weekend at Theater Project, is wonderfully enchanting. Previous winners of the 2017 Jim Henson Foundation Grant, their puppetry skills, physical comedy, and infusion of timeless tunes solidifies this magical evening.
Homebodies is hard to encapsulate in a brief description here, I’ll do my best. Two vaudevillian styled 1930s esque clad actors enter and begin a silent movement of a box. It takes a while to get situated and the attempts are classic slapstick. As they adjust this four-foot by four-foot box, they also craft a special bond. As the story progresses to them having dinner and trying to coax their shy cat out of his cubby- everything they need is encapsulated in this small magical box with tons of secret drawers and compartments.
How to describe Alex and Olmsted? Alex Vernon and Sarah Olmsted Thomas are simply masters of their craft. Not only constructing this magical box (no small feat), but a night clerk hotel bellhop puppet that looks like he escaped from a Twilight Zone episode. Their attention to detail and improvisation is top-notch. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen two actors work with and off each other is such complete unison. It is as if they are one person divided into two.
The improv portion is comical, our audience on Friday night was more than happy to offer random objects for the list, but had trouble answering the phone when it rang. Finally, a brave soul participated but had to come down from on high to communicate in the microphone. This part also seems so well crafted it is almost not improv anymore. And this lead to a delightfully different take on each performance.
When they would begin a farcical Buster Keaton routine, my friend next to me would light up and smile from ear to ear. They were simply incredible. I am seriously at a lack for words to describe the fusion of humor, physicality, puppet building, carpentry, improv, etc. all tied up in one one-hour show.
My favorite moment was the nod to Schrodinger with the comment, “if you never see the cat is it really there?” This sort of nonsensical yet perfectly fitting discourse is the sort of romping good time you expect when you see an Alex & Olmsted show.
SHOULD I STAY OR SHOULD I GO? Go today or you will miss it! This limited engagement is only running this weekend at the Theater Project. Let us hope that they will perform an encore, because this was spectacular and should have a full three week run (IMHO). Alex & Olmsted simply delight in a rollicking glimpse of two people perfectly content to be limited by their interior space. They make us all long to be homebodies. (I)
Running time a little over an hour with no intermission. Through 4/29 at Theater Project.