At the Bryant-Lake Bowl, Joshua English Scrimshaw and Levi Weinhagen are reprising their bestselling show from the 2009 Minnesota Fringe Festival. The Harty Boys in the Case of the Limping Platypus is a parody of the old Hardy Boys teenage detective novels. I never read any of those books, so I was not sure what to expect. What I found was a delightfully silly show.
Fred and Jack Harty (Joshua English Scrimshaw and Levi Weihagen) are two rather old-looking adolescents who spend their time trying to find clues to solve crimes. Their father is Philmore Harty (played with a fine sense of melodrama by Ari Hoptman), a world-famous freelance—and apparently unemployed—detective who needs his sons’ help to solve crimes. Their mother is Lana Harty (Leslie Ball), a forensic crime scientist, a weary family breadwinner who is annoyed by her husband’s and sons’ contamination of crime scenes. The boys’ best friend is Becca Morgan (Sulia Altenber). The boys’ new friend is Spencer Harrison Levin (Clint Travers), whose uncle is the notorious master criminal the Platypus (Arnie Roos). The most memorable image in the show occurs when the large Roos comes on stage in his Platypus costume when he attempts to kill Philmore. Rounding out the cast is Andy Kaft—who plays the narrator, the criminal Nelson Filtch, and the inept Officer Buff. Kraft is hilarious, jumping back from his multiple roles to his narrator position on stage.
|the harty boys in the case of the limping platypus, presented through april 24 at the bryant-lake bowl. for tickets ($12 adult, $6 child) and information, see bryantlakebowl.com|
The performance I enjoyed best was Ball’s as the boys’ mother. In the midst of all the silliness, her character comes into the scene and takes a no-nonsense approach toward all of the action. In keeping with her maternal role, Ball at times breaks from the action to caution the children in the audience to never do what they just saw on stage (i.e. taking a gun from a sleeping policeman). Scrimshaw and Weihagen manage to stay in character the entire show playing their earnest but somewhat dense characters. The two child actors in the show, Altenber and Travers, are great and, at times, threaten to out perform the adults, but there were a few times where I had trouble hearing their lines.
By the end, the play felt like a comedy sketch that had gone a bit long. The plot line is minimal and very predictable at times, but it serves the purpose of setting up the various jokes in the show, including jokes about local landmarks such as the Walker Art Center. In the midst of the show, the writers even manage to throw in a comic reference to Schrödinger’s cat.
The audience, many of whom were children, loved the show. The show never gets crude or inappropriate for children to watch, which is a welcome change from most comedy sketch work and makes it a perfect show for adults and their families to enjoy.