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An Adult Evening of Shel Silverstein



An Adult Evening of Shel Silverstein, Fat Kid Productions and Outside the Box Theatre Company, at Athenaeum Theatre. In most circles Shel Silverstein is known as a writer of children's books, but he got his start as a writer and cartoonist for Playboy, and the magazine's contradictions cling to him like stale cigar smoke. He clearly thought of himself as hip, progressive, and freethinking, but a close examination reveals an antiquated straight-male, onanistic, adolescent worldview.

Thinly disguised sexist and sophomoric notions suffuse the poems, single-joke songs, overly long comedy sketches, and very short plays that make up this evening of Silverstein's "adult" work. He may have thought that his satire Going Once, about a man auctioning off a nubile young woman, was a way to slash at outmoded gender roles, but his voyeurism gets the best of him--at one point he even has the auctioneer expose the woman's breasts to show potential clients their perfection. In another piece a leering man adds a T to the word "bus" on a sign and uses that as an excuse to ogle a woman's breasts and reel off a long list of slang expressions for them as he licks his lips. Again, I'm sure Silverstein thought he was mocking men who objectify women, but the piece quickly becomes an example of the sexism it appears to be satirizing. It's not surprising that neither director Chad Hansing nor his cast of young, energetic comic actors can do anything to make this infrequently amusing material seem less dated.

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