Friday night I watched something from a different era. I attended a type of show that you rarely see in person. A silent play. Well, not completely silent. Reminiscent of the slapstick comedy movies from the 1920’s, Keep Your Guard Up, Smitty Harbinger, the play, featured live music. Elliot Targgart played on the piano accompanying Smitty Harbinger who was portrayed by Tim Campos.
Having only seen clips of these black and white silent films, and being familiar with of one of the most famous silent film stars, Charlie Chaplin, I wondered what it would be like.
With Targgart at the piano off to the side of the stage, the show starts off at what seems to be a normal everyday for Smitty. He arrives at the guard booth where he works. At what could perhaps be a parking lot, as there were lift gates. However, everything starts to go amiss almost immediately when his coffee spills everywhere and has to dry his wet socks on the lift gates. Between battling a pesky bee, setting up and enjoying his lunch, and dealing with an uncooperative maintenance manual to fix those lift gates, Smitty still mans the booth and directing traffic. Even when everything goes wrong for Smitty Harbinger and without any help, he does keep his guard up.
Tim Campos’s physical comedy is what makes the show so much fun in dealing with everyday nuisances that normally would not be a battle as it was for Smitty. Elliot Targgart is on point with the music in conveying what was happening. Both aspects where in sync with each other. Although short in comparison with other plays running about an hour, it is something that everyone of all ages can enjoy. Especially someone who has an appreciation for silent films and slapstick comedy. While I thought that is was funny enough, my guest thought it was not comedy for him.
The Silent Theatre Company’s world premiere of this one-person show played at The Den Theatre at 1331 N. Milwaukee Ave., Thursday through Sunday, July 19 – 22, 2018. It was directed by Tonika Todorova, a Silent Theatre Company ensemble member and the set was designed by Grant Sabin. For more about the Den Theatre visit their website For more about the Silent Theatre Company visit their website.