Sunday, May 17, 2009

A Play On Words (59E59)

By Ben

smart • silly • simple • suburban • semantics

BOTTOM LINE: Highly enjoyable banter between two friends that is simply fun to watch and laugh along with...not to mention the ticket price is a bargain.

I really liked A Play on Words. The writing is smart, the acting is fun to watch and it’s very entertaining. Some describe it like Waiting for Godot meets Seinfeld. While I see the comparison, this show does take on its own personality and there is a story that unfolds that is not completely meaningless.

So what the heck is the play about? Mark Boyett and Bryan Dykstra play two suburban guys having a conversation outside and one of them is planning something. That’s it. The good news is that it’s a very funny and intelligent conversation. They discuss politics, the meaning of words, American history and our own school system. As an audience member, it’s fun to go for the ride and let your own brain crunch on these issues. By no means are they “heavy” issues; what most of the issues come down to is, as the title suggests, wordplay. What the plot and banter amount to in the end is ultimately quite silly in a very smart way.

Dykstra and Boyett do a great job playing off one another and the show never drags. It’s nothing over the top or a spectacle designed to blow you away. It’s simple theater. Dykstra is also the writer of the play, so I wonder how much he was playing his self or if this was a characterization. Either way, it boils down to simple solid theater that is well polished and enjoyable to take in.

If you enjoy humor that is intellectually engaging and easy to take in, check it out. Bring a friend if you’re up for it, it’s an easy night at the theater without breaking the bank and it just might start your own wordplay conversation afterwards.

(A Play on Words plays through Saturday, May 30 as part of the Americans Off Broadway festival at 59E59 Theatres, 59 East 59th Street. Performances are Tuesday at 7:30 PM, Wednesday through Saturday at 8:30 PM and Sunday at 3:30 PM. The regular ticket price is $18 ($12.60 for 59E59 Members). Tickets are available by calling Ticket Central at 212-279-4200 or online at For more information visit

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