PPP Takes On “Dead-Pan” Humor

Is He Dead? is the latest production to hit the Poplar Pike Playhouse. The play, originally
written by Mark Twain and adapted by David Ives, tackles the outrageously ridiculous yet
satirical humor of the life of a painter.
The play introduces us to Jean-Francois Millet, an actual French painter, who finds
himself in situations full of hijinks and misunderstandings. “For part of the play, I am a woman.
This is a lot harder than I initially thought,” says actor Kyle Bowers. “There are a lot of feminine
mannerisms I wasn’t aware of and ladies shoes are not comfortable.” While this mistaken
identity is comical, the additional cast of wacky characters, absurd situations, and jokes galore
promises that audiences will certainly “die” laughing.
The style of Is He Dead? pokes fun at the seriousness of melodramatic, classic theatre.
While the show may not be well-known, the topic, main character, and type of humor are
entertaining and widely appreciated. “I think that the characters in Is He Dead? lend themselves
to the old vaudeville style of classic villain, damsel in distress, and of course the classic slapstick
a la the Three Stooges,” says Jeff White, the play’s director. The over-dramatic personalities of
old Vaudeville characters turn into comedic material on the PPP stage, with each of the show’s
wild characters representing a certain stereotype. There are quite frequent direct references to the
physicality of entertainers like Charlie Chaplain and Buster Keaton. Though this show has no
music, the excessive physical comedy requires coordinated choreography to achieve the perfect
timing. “Physical comedy is very unique,” says actor Andrew Heady. “It keeps me on my feet
the entire time I’m on stage.” This tried and true style of comedy with a modern twist is sure to
be a side-splitting hit as the PPP races toward opening night.
Tickets for Is He Dead? are on sale now! The show runs October 26- November 4 at the
Poplar Pike Playhouse. Visit ppp.org, or call PPP Box Office at (901) 755-7775 for more
information. Follow the PPP on Facebook (@poplarpikeplayhouse) or Twitter (@ppptheatre) for
updates and special coupon codes.

 (From left to right) Actors Andrew Heady, Alan Toney, Christian Powell, Mackenzie Kuykendoll, Amber Allen, Kyle Bowers, and Tate Jakobi freeze in an intense moment in Is He Dead?.

(From left to right) Actors Andrew Heady, Alan Toney, Christian Powell, Mackenzie Kuykendoll,
Amber Allen, Kyle Bowers, and Tate Jakobi freeze in an intense moment in Is He Dead?.

 Jean-Francois Millet (played by actor Kyle Bowers) uses his undercover identity, the widow Daisy Tillou, to condole Marie Leroux (played by actress Scarlett Simpson).

Jean-Francois Millet (played by actor Kyle Bowers) uses his undercover identity, the widow
Daisy Tillou, to condole Marie Leroux (played by actress Scarlett Simpson).