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Fall Arts Guide 2010: The Nairobi Project

Best Bet: Comedy

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The folks at Blewt! Productions specialize in simple ideas given a surreal twist. Their game show Don't Spit the Water found comics donning penguin costumes and tutus to tickle audience members to the point of emptying their H2O-filled mouths. In Impress These Apes, contestants vie for the title of Least Pitiful Human—conferred by a panel of judges in ape masks—by meeting oddball challenges like preparing an act for a child's birthday party.

Blewt's latest concept, The Nairobi Project, has got all the trappings of something beautifully surreal.

As company founder Steve Gadlin tells it, when he received an unsolicited e-mail from Victor Gido, a Kenyan hawking plays, in December 2009, he wrote back, initiating an extended negotiation that started with Gido offering to sell him an existing script for two million Kenyan shillings (roughly $25,000) and culminated in Gadlin commissioning Gido to write a new play for $50. Gadlin's specs were as follows: "A millionaire named Quack Quack Quimby has forgotten the true meaning of the Jewish holiday Tu Bishvat. His daughter goes to great lengths to remind him of its meaning, and make him happy once again. We'd like the play to end with him on his deathbed, reciting a monologue about his regained love for Tu Bishvat, and also admitting a lifelong homosexual affair with his trusted assistant, The Wizard Dumbeldore."

Blewt! is producing the result of this purported transaction—titled The Price—this fall at the Annoyance Theatre. Gadlin always commits fully to his silliness, so expect every convoluted plot point to be well grounded, every ridiculous character detail finely etched.  Opens Sun 9/26. Through 10/24: Sun 8 PM, Annoyance Theatre, 4830 N. Broadway, 773-561-4665, thenairobiproject.com, $10. —Steve Heisler

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