Wish We Were Here at NCTC a throwback to burlesque

Micheal Phillis & Sara Moore in (Photo by Meg Messina & David Wilson)
WISH WE WERE HERE: Comedy by Michael Phillis directed by Andrew Nance. New Conservatory Theatre Center (NCTC) The New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness Ave. near Market St. in San Francisco, 94102. NCTC Box Office (415) 861-8972, or online at www.nctcsf.org. Ends June 27, 2011


The ever popular handsome young writer/director Michael Phillis has been a mainstay at the NCTC since 2006 collaborating with director Andrew Nance and his performances have kept the crowds happy with his irreverent and clever antics. This time around he brings his successful 2008 NYC Fringe Festival gig, Wish We Were Here to the intimate Stage Three where it is playing to full houses.

It was W. C. Fields who warned actors not to play opposite children who often steal the spotlight from the adults. Phillis is exceptionally brave to have written this two handed show for the multi-talented comedienne Sara Moore (a child at heart) and played opposite her. With exception of a solo finale crowd pleasing dance in a beaded tutu over a flimsy silk jock strap, Phillis is the “straight man” to Moore’s hilarious, perfectly timed physical antics embellished with facial contortions to match.

There is a hint of the TV show I Dream of Jeannie (Genie) but it is just a hint since Phillis has embellished his writing with mild sexual innuendo in between the vaudevillian burlesques routines. Actually, the entire 70 minute show would be a smash back in the days of burlesques if it were shortened.

Phillis plays a striving young, pot smoking actor who had the bad fortune to summon forth a Genie from his Hookah. “Why did you come from a Hookah. I thought you were supposed to be from fancy lamps!” “Misinformation,” Genie replies “Some of us can be found in gourds.” Through flashbacks and dialog we learn that greedy Phillis’s first wish is for unlimited wishes. That is where he made his mistake, since it was granted and now he has been stuck with this unruly genie for six months. He broke the time proven axiom that the “master” only gets three wishes and he has to read the four inch thick addendum to the original contract. This sequence is milked to the nth degree and becomes a bit tedious.

With pardons to Shakespeare, here’s the rub: Who is Master and who is slave. The two elicit the aid of us, the paying audience, as arbiters. As written here, that does not sound very funny but it is all because the interplay between Phillis and Moore is finely tuned (thanks to director Nance) and Moore’s exceptional talent and Phillis’s magnanimity playing it straight.

Kedar K. Adour, MD

Courtesy of www.theatreworldinternetmagazine.com