All laws of normalcy were suspended, the fourth wall was no wall at all and absurdity knew no bounds in the premier of “All Your Questions Answered” on Saturday Sept. 28. The show opened at the Geva Theatre Center as a part of the 2013 Rochester Fringe Festival. “All Your Questions Answered” is a series of short comedic plays by two-time Tony Award-winner Greg Kotis, who wrote the book Urinetown and cowrote the lyrics to its musical adaptation.
The first of a 90-minute series of surprises comes at the very start of the show. The lights go down and two men in the audience seats begin to audibly bicker about whether cell phones should be silenced during a show or turned off altogether. The bickering quickly escalates into deafening shouting, transgressing into one of the characters being strangled to death.
To paint a picture of the otherwise complex content, the first play takes place inside a refrigerator, where the cast plays mold cultures. The molds argue over the proper time to spore out of the refrigerator and take over the house. A wrestling match ensues between two conflicting leaders, resulting in the death of one of them.
Some of the acts include songs as well. The first of these has the feel of a musical, starting with a character lamenting about the unattainable nature of the “American Dream” in a more-or-less conventional style. Sticking to the show's nature, the story runs completely overboard when the man holds a mortgage handler at knifepoint and gets arrested.
In spite of the absurd, sporadic content of “All Your Questions Answered,” it seems to have just the right amount of motif development that make the playwright's voice discernible. A day in the career of a typical playwright gets transformed into creative and hilarious metaphors. In one case, the playwright is being interrogated by a good cop and a bad cop, who are his actors forcing him to answer difficult questions about his script. In another, he is in hell, appealing to the devil to have his play put on.
What stands out about this show, amidst all of the ridiculousness, is its seamlessness. Between each play, the actors perform various brief interludes − consisting mostly of song − that bleed into the next storyline. This unique aspect of the show demands multiple talents from each actor, as they each take turns singing and playing a guitar.
It is very difficult to find a fault with “All Your Questions Answered.” The show is fully loaded with original humor, and the presentation is strong; the dialogue is tightened up well, the syntax of every joke exactly how it needs to be.
One arguable weakness is in the songs that transition each play. While they are vital to the show's structure, they aren't humorous. They seem to be traditional songs or folk songs, which for some could sideline the comedy while for others could provide balance.
The show will run at The Ron & Donna Fielding Nextstage at Geva Theatre Center in Rochester through Oct. 13.