You know that scene at the end of The Matrix (spoiler alert) where Neo sees the green code and jumps into Agent Smith’s belly and makes him explode, and then calls somebody and flies away while Rage Against the Machine plays? It’s the damnedest thing, but the three members of the Berserker Residents pretty much do the same thing during THE TALKBACK, except the audience is Agent Smith (and the music is the theme song to Mr. Belvedere). If your head doesn’t get all bubbly and explode, you’re not doing it right.
We begin at the end. As a catchpenny show called “Prodigal Father” comes to its conclusion, we’re asked to participate in a talkback, and encouraged to ask questions. Justin Jain, David Johnson, and Bradley Wrenn play themselves playing themselves, and before our eyes they deftly twist silly and clever, deadpan and madcap, and bullshit and reality together into an eye-popping Möbius loop of a show, all while delivering a loving lampoon of actors and the world of acting. Warm-up exercises, wonky acronyms for theatrical techniques, and rampant self-seriousness all get a good healthy poke. Some of these gags arise in such a spontaneous way that it’s hard to believe they are pre-written, and yet are also so tight that there’s no way they’re being made up on the spot. Maybe the Berserker Residents can’t stop bullets with their minds, but I wouldn’t put it past them. [Skinner Studio at Plays and Players Theatre] September 18-21, 2013. fringearts.ticketleap.