nytheatre briefs - November 11, 2001


The Further Adventures of Dick Piston, Hotel Detective (apparently there have been others) is a silly film noir spoof by Jeff Goode in which a relentlessly square house P.I. searches first for a stolen necklace and then for a murdered wife. The necklace is one of the crown jewels of the Czech Republic and bears the name "My Virginity"; it's that kind of comedy. Until it becomes clear that that moniker belongs to the necklace, Piston wrangles, Double Indemnity-style, with the victim, a direct-to-video Czech film star with the improbable name of Pleasure Hello, trying to understand exactly what it is she thinks she's lost.

Also mixed up in the caper are a thickly-accented jewel thief named Misha Novakova and a goofily-coiffed Man With No Pants called Havel Presley (evidently the love child of Elvis, though named for the Czech president). There's also a deliberately odd lounge "wizard" known as Zing the Amazing who is not only implicated, in a prologue-flashback, as the criminal, but is also responsible for introducing diversionary entertainments in between the nine "episodes" that comprise Dick Piston. (Goode has structured the script like an old-time serial, though it's presented at The Medicine Show as a hapless vaudeville bill.)

Goode's script blends noir parody (which he writes rather well) with Ionescally self-aware absurdism. Barbara Vann's staging throws in surreal touches, like characters moving furniture for no apparent reason or suddenly toasting marshmallows in the middle of one of Piston's big monologues.

Sometimes silliness is the cure for what ails you; if it is, you can do far worse than a visit with Dick Piston. (reviewed on November 11, 2001)