“So what besides ‘Don’t eat IUDs’ should we take away from tonight?”
The Libertinis’ Nite Skool, performed at the Annex Theatre, is a hilarious, raunchy comedy show with a social conscience. Ittakes on the aesthetic of the after-school-special era of teen sitcoms, but the subjects it tackles are anything but dated. Nite Skool aims to both make you laugh and challenge widely-held beliefs perpetuated by schools, and it usually succeeds.
Nite Skool, written by Max Kirchner and the ensemble, opens with a woman realizing she is unprepared for the realities of adult life. She decides to go to Nite Skool [sic] to “fill her knowledge holes.” The show takes us through a school day (night?), using each “class” to tackle a social issue and/or tell jokes that would have definitely gotten you sent out in the hallway. Highlights include literature (from Holden Caulfield to Jodi Picoult), lunch (a dance number set to Britney Spears’ hits, after which I will never look at meat sauce the same way again), and boozy divorcee Aunt Judy’s etiquette class (“Postmodern Applications: A Gender Non-Specific Guide to Getting By and Getting Yours.”)
Nite Skool is most successful with its most comedic material, while the more educational sketches vary in quality. The night’s “substitute” (the show has a different guest speaker every night) The Moth producer Yolanda Suarez’s presentation about Cesar Chavez is engaging and informative. However, while the sketches on depression and sex ed have some educational and entertaining moments, they feel a bit like preaching to the choir, if you define “choir” as anyone who’s read a few resource masterposts on Tumblr or Buzzfeed.
The production showcases a talented ensemble and technical team. Performers Tootsie Spangles, Hattie HellKat, Woody Shticks, Meiko Hall, Laura Dux, Gabriela Noble, Natasha Ransom, and Sophie Lowenstein all charm while they dance, sing, and deliver punchlines. The work of scenic designer Emily Sershon and costume designer Fantasia Oslund (with Spangles) gives you Saved By the Bell flashbacks in the most effective way. Shticks and Trevor Hansen’s choreography is delightful and welcome whenever it pops up throughout the piece. It’s clear that everyone involved in this production plays an important part in making this a unique and memorable show.
The Libertinis’ Nite Skool is funny, original, and definitely worth a trip to the Annex. It will make you laugh out loud, and might even challenge some of the ideas you learned in school that you never realized had alternatives.
Nite Skool created by The Libertinis with Max Kirchner and the ensemble. Annex Theatre, 1100 E Pike St, Capitol Hill, 98122. Thurs-Sat 7:30 p.m., July 28 – Aug 19. Tickets: https://web.ovationtix.com/trs/pr/970149. Info: http://www.annextheatre.org/annex-2017-season/main-stage/nite-skool/.