The Oregonian

The Oregonian - Friday, July 18, 2003

Detective yarn 'Dick Piston' is kitschy, silly, fun

"You are obviously French, or maybe English. I can tell by your thick American accent." So goes the dialogue in "The Further Adventures of Dick Piston, Hotel Detective: Prague-Nosis," a hilarious spy-game spoof set in the capital of the Czech Republic, where nothing is as it appears to be, not even the setting.

The denizens of playwright Jeff Goode's creation are pure curious kitsch, the kind of folks we might meet in comic books for adults, or in our dreams: Zing the Amazing, an Eastern European lounge wizard (and typist) with an agenda; a Czech porn star named Pleasure Hello; international jewel thief Misha Novakova; and the trouser-challenged Havel Presley, named after a king and a president.

Then, of course, there's the Bogart-inspired Piston, who's trying to solve such a convoluted mystery in this illegitimate stepchild of the time-honored film-noir detective story that it doesn't really matter what's going on -- it's the laughs that add up, not the clues. The plot jolts and plunges, the actors swap roles and the story line shimmers with silliness.

This is perfect summer fare for quirky Theatre Vertigo. Company co-founder Ben Plont directs the fine cast, which features Tom Moorman, Camille Cettina, Kam Sisco, Melody Bridges and Darius Pierce.

"The Further Adventures of Dick Piston, Hotel Detective: Prague-Nosis," Theatre Vertigo, at the Electric Company, 2512 S.E. Gladstone St., Suite 200. 9 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays (and 9 p.m. Sundays, July 27 and Aug. 3), through Aug. 23; $12, with pay what you will on Thursdays; 503-306-0870. -- Holly Johnson Special to The Oregonian