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The Wingding Doodle Club

Written by: Ken Dashow
Directed by: Ken Dashow
Performed by: Neal Arluch, Jane Purcell Dashow, Lawrence Lesher, Cole Razzano, Karen Stanion, Bill Weeden
Running time: Two hours
Web site:

Contrasting onstage enthusiasm with offstage cynicism in a behind-the-scenes look at children's entertainment isn't exactly a novel idea (Death to Smoochy, anyone?) and unfortunately The Wingding Doodle Club doesn't bring anything new to the premise. The play centers around a puppet-based kids' TV show where no one gets along off-camera. People swear a lot once the director yells, "Cut!"; the grandfatherly dancing bear is actually a bitter alcoholic; the perky young ingenue sleeps with people who can advance her career; the joyless station manager only cares about the bottom line (you can tell he's uptight because he wears a tie); add in your own cliché here. When the show is threatened with cancellation, various high jinks ensue followed by some highly implausible action and a ridiculously unrealistic conclusion that even includes characters pairing off romantically. Although this alleged comedy is playing at the Fringe, its tired comic targets and corny resolution give off the unmistakable eau de sitcom.—Ben Mathis-Lilley

Where: The Players Theatre-Studio 3C
When: Fri, Aug 13 at 9:15 p.m.; Sun, Aug 15 at 2 p.m.; Wed, Aug 18 at 10 p.m.; Sat, Aug 21 at 4:15 p.m.; Mon, Aug 23 at 7 p.m.; Sat, Aug 28 at noon.

Published August 20, 2004