Double-entendres fire like pistons in Theatre Vertigo farce

An unlikely hero has returned to Theatre Vertigo on the trail of unlikelier villains in 'The Further Adventures of Dick Piston, Hotel Detective: Prague-Nosis!'

Piston (Tom Moorman) is the deadpan shamus first seen here five years ago investigating a murder in a hotel full of lycanthropes in Jeff Goode's 'Larry and the Werewolf,' which set the silly bar pretty high for a sequel.

This time Piston is hired by voluptuous Czech porn star Pleasure Hello (Camille Cettina) to find a jewel thief and a man with no pants (Darius Pierce). The play's McGuffin (to use Alfred Hitchcock's term for something everybody wants) is a diamond necklace called My Virginity, which was part of the Czech crown jewels and stolen from Pleasure Hello by curvaceous international jewel thief Misha Novakova (Melody Bridges). As you can imagine, double-entendres are rife.

'We'll have to do this the hard way,' Piston says.

'You mean blindfolded?' asks Pleasure Hello, innocently.

Goode has written 50 plays and musicals, including Theatre Vertigo's 2001 hit 'Poona.' He writes fast to keep himself interested, so Dick Piston has cliffhanger endings every 10 minutes, and even Piston has trouble keeping up.

'The truth is gonna take somebody out back and beat the crap out of them,' a frustrated Piston tells suspects at one point.

Goode says Dick Piston is basically Goode doing improv with himself:

'I start with vague characters and ask myself, 'What would surprise me next?' I need a twist at the end of the play, then I need two more after that to stay ahead of the audience. It's very fast-paced, and the plot is intentionally ridiculous.'

It's also important to have gratuitous sex and violence, he says happily, explaining why Pleasure Hello is unable to stay clothed.

Goode says Piston's character comes from a friend back in Chicago who wanted to be onstage but went into a flop sweat when he was required to act:

'So I put him in scenes where he looked like he was acting but everybody was acting around him. The central villain says, 'All right, Larry Ñ talk!' His woman complains, 'Larry, you don't love me Ñ say something.' '

Goode also throws in Zing the Amazing (Kam Sisco), a magician with a talent for deducing the obvious. Zing tells Piston that when he snaps his fingers he will be a detective. 'But I am,' Piston replies. 'Amazing!' announces Zing for the nth time.

Fight sequences mimic the slow-motion hamminess of 'The Avengers' TV series, and there is a string of sight gags. The show lags at the 50-minute mark but rallies to several improbable conclusions. There's even a good 'Sixth Sense' gag Ñ if you're paying attention.

By the way, the reason the story has Czech characters (other than the puns) is that Goode has a number of friends who have been to Prague 'and talk about it incessantly. I thought I'd poke fun at them,' he says.

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