There’s not much point to Happenstance Theater & Banished Productions’s Handbook for Hosts except to create an atmosphere. But what an atmosphere! From the moment the ensemble begins teasing audience members with spot-on film noir accents and prettily coiffed hair, you willingly enter the parlance of the 1930’s and ’40’s.
Bumbling Russian spies, dueling femme fatales, and even the Chattanooga-Choo-Choo all combine to resurrect the allure of an era lost. Ably created and helmed by Mark Jaster, Sabrina Mandell, Melissa Krodman and Michael Sazonov – this quartet shines whether singing, dancing, or miming old movies with clever shadowplay. Punctuated throughout are old style radio renditions advising gents how to be proper hosts, a java jingle, riffs on film noir classics (including a spectacularly funny bit of audience participation), and a moody poem on dames gone wrong. The quartet’s dedication to creating a naughty glamour is hypnotic.
Don’t go in expecting a heavy plot or political musings. This production’s like an old perfume bottle of attar of roses, with a little saucy kick. It’s playful and a bit perverse, like silk stockings all askew, a welcome escape from our drab world outside.