Sweat is gonna make you laugh. Frankly, you'll have little choice in the matter. This five-member troupe of Portland's finest comedic actors has probably already made you yuk it up at some point—either at a 3rd Floor performance, or at Road House: The Play, or maybe you caught Sweat's debut last fall. Their newest production is a series of skits designed to make you pee your pants (just a little), with sharp comic timing and unexpected twists... and mermaids, lots of delightful mermaids. And narwhals.
Sweat is Shelley McLendon, Michael Fetters, Andrew Harris, Jason Rouse, and Sean McGrath. They inhabit a series of increasingly awesome characters, like a band of Irish bank-robbing brothers (and a sister); the put-upon students of a past-his-prime karate sensei; and the attendees of a particularly high-spirited Latina's teenage birthday party. The show is more than a sum of its very amusing parts—like the slow burn of the birthday skit, where McLendon and Harris work the room, mingling and holding champagne flutes at their daughter's birthday party, murmuring greetings to the audience en Español. Meanwhile, the audience at Theater! Theatre! slowly takes note of a picture of the daughter on stage—the most unfortunate teenager ever, played by Rouse (who is not a diminutive man), squeezed into a silk ball gown and slathered in red lipstick. It's a hysterical reveal, made all the funnier with each cast member's total immersion in the skit. The poor lady next to me was nearly hyperventilating—the highest of praise.
The crew also makes great use of props, wheeling out a rowboat that acted as a recurring set piece, the highlight of which was a sketch about mermaids that couldn't have been any more amusing if it tried. Because the chuckle-makers of Sweat are such pros, it's a little difficult to explain why each skit is so damned funny—it's a perfect storm of Fetters' facial expressions, Harris' sea-captain pomposity, McLendon's inflections, Rouse's karate skills, and McGrath's dancing. It's not what they're doing—it's how they're doing it. And by this point in Sweat's run, they've probably worked out some of the sound kinks that popped up during opening night—but, truthfully, I was too busy laughing to make much note of them anyway. Seriously, this shit is funny. COURTNEY FERGUSON