Ernie Putalik is a folksy small town mayor, running for Governor of Indiana. Like any candidate, he practices his speeches in the living room -- with some help from his extremely whacky next door neighbors.
“As alderman and mayor of the great town of Uniondale Indiana.” (Fanfare, laughter).
Laughter and chaos reign during the opening scenes. But the play changes abruptly when a devastating personal loss shuts down the candidate, to his campaign manager’s distress.
“Ten days Ernie. The press is eating my brain. Now they’re calling, all of them, every hour… How’s Ernie, when will we see him, is he OK?”
“Tell them I’m fine.”
“That’s what I’ve been telling them.”
“Then they should be fine.”
“There’s a shelf life on public grief.”
Silliness and sadness walk side by side in this play. It’s a comedy in which the decisive event is a tragic setback. Sometimes, the combination is effective, like the scene in which the devastated candidate tries to start a philosophical discussion with a phone solicitor. But other times, things don’t jell. There’s one corny scene involving squirrels that ought to be revised. Busfield hasn’t produced a classic here, but it’s good to see an original script during a holiday season dominated by familiar revivals.
Hear The Grass Grow continues at the B Street Theatre through January 4th.