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February 19, 2009

PLUCK: The Titanic Show

Roy Meachum

Executive Director Ray Cullom first spotted "Pluck: The Titanic Show" at the annual Edinborough Comedy Festival last summer. The three-"man" show opened at his Bethesda Theatre over the weekend and will hang around until March 7, three Saturdays away.


Everybody knows the story how the great ship's orchestra serenaded hundreds of people's fate, including their own, as cold Atlantic waters swallowed them up. The song: "Nearer My God to Thee." According to the program, the show is "Pluck's tribute to the musicians who played on until the end: Nobody knows what happened to those brave few before the tragedy Pluck has made it up.


The cast is made up of refugees from England's better conservatories. Each had some success on their own. Together, with the aid of writer/director Cal McCrystal, they mount a skillful comedic venture into events that almost certainly did not occur to the Titanic's tragic musicians. The pitches and timbres are different, but their voices all resonate with British upper class accents. Their musical pitch remains dead-on.


While performing choreographed gyrations and intricately twisting their bodies – lying, sitting, standing or running – they never miss a note. With a violin, viola and cello, they render first class variations on a string of classical, operatic and standard tunes: from "Rule Britannia" to "Merry Widow;" "Ave Maria" followed by chestnut "The Peanut Vendor." You can hear Nutcracker's "Waltz of the Flowers" and the theme from the movie, "Jaws." Eclectic is not the right word; comprehensive's better.


All by themselves, Adrian Garratt, Sian Kadifachi and Jon Regan captivated the audience, and more: they guaranteed laughter to any and all comers. Not for the heavy-of-heart nor perpetual grouches, "Pluck: The Titanic Show" will divert, to the point of possibility of leaving audiences lying in the Bethesda Theatre aisles and rolling with laughter. You will not waste your time and your money by buying tickets for this enchanting show.


But fair warning: the meticulous music and scintillating satire dries up and the magical musicians go away after March's first week. Weep me no tears if you fail to catch this show imported by my friend Ray Cullom.


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