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by Karen Tortora-Lee on February 11, 2014

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Ten Questions. Ten Answers. And One Big Decision: Rock, Paper, Or Scissors?


Professor Ralph’s Loss of Breath

Production Company: Playlab NYC

“Mr. Lackobreath is the luckiest man alive, but soon after his wedding his life becomes a high-spirited comic nightmare. Punch and Judy meets the Book of Job in Professor Ralph’s neglected masterpiece.”

Show Times:

  • Thurs 2/20 @ 8:40PM
  • Sun 2/23 @ 3:40PM
  • Wed 2/26 @ 8:40PM
  • Wed 3/05 @ 7:05PM
  • Sat 3/08 @ 12:30PM

Answers by Kevin P. Hale (Director)

1. Your tag line is out there on postcards and press releases so we know the PR version of what this play is about.  But when you talk to your family and friends, how do you explain the show to them?

KH: Professor Ralph’s Loss of Breath is an epic slapstick road movie; a two person Warner Brothers cartoon live on stage.

2. Here’s a scenario: After the show some audience members go have a drink.  What’s the part of the show you hope they’re discussing?

KH:  I hope they are talking about and continuing to laugh at the inspired performances of Robert Berliner (Toby Dammit) and Scott Michael Morales (Mr. Lackobreath).  The burden of the show rests on totally their shoulders, and their comic hi-jinks will deserve to be the center of all conversations regarding the show.

3. What drives your show – character, theme or plot?

KH: Theme.  Toby Dammit and Mr. Lackobreath spend an evening performing one of the greatest comic novelties in the world while providing moral lessons regarding the virtue of perseverance, and as such I believe that they are a source of hope. 

4. In rehearsals, read-thrus, or prior incarnations, what’s the one thing someone said about the show so far that made you (or the team) the most proud?

KH: When I directed a different version of the show back in 2009 at FringeNYC one of reviewers wrote “Hopefully, as some shows do, Loss of Breath will find life post-Fringe.” It took five years, but I’m proud that Playlab NYC finally brought the show back.

5. Let’s fantasize for a moment. Let’s take the “off-off” off. Imagine this show is on Broadway. Would that change the production itself?

KH: Not a lot, Loss of Breath is akin to The 39 Steps: there aren’t a lot of production needs. One actor (Scott Michael Morales) plays our hero, Mr. Lackobreath, while the one other actor (Robert Berliner) plays every other character in the show. The biggest change Broadway version of Professor Ralph’s show would be that the actors would get the opportunity to become a much tighter comedy team.

6. Taking that one step further – after paying everyone what they’re worth of course, what is the most lavish, luxurious, pointless thing you would spend money on if there was no constraints?

KH: There’s a crypt scene toward the end of Loss of Breath, and the most lavish pointless thing I would want would be something like the graveyard set from Dance of the Vampires’ number “Eternity.” It would take forever to lower from the flies and it will just stop the play dead in its tracks. (Tanz Der Vampire Second Act ~ Eternity)

7. Is there a scene, a moment, a gesture … anything at all in the show that you anticipate may get a completely different reaction depending on the audience that night?

KH: I think the audience reaction to Mr. Lackobreath’s meeting with the sweet virginal Pleasant Pecksniff will probably vary each night.

8. What’s your favorite line from the show?

KH: Toby Dammit has a line early in the performance, “Pray gentles, it’s a pretty play, when performed well. So pray it is performed well.” For me, that line about sums up Professor Ralph’s Loss of Breath.

9. Is the world of this play sustainable outside a theatre? In other words … do you think people live the way the characters do? Would you want a world where they do?

KH: Oh dear, oh dear…tsk tsk tsk…I hope it isn’t, I hope they don’t, and certainly not.

10. You scan the audience and you see a face that stops you dead in your tracks – who is it? And why are you shocked?

KH: “Professor” Ralph Philips, the show’s writer – because he’s been dead for over a century! I just hope he isn’t too insulted by what we did to his script.


Rock, Paper, Scissors Tournament of DEAAAAATH

In the THM virtual Rock, Paper, Scissors Tournament of DEAAAAATH which FRIGID Show do you take on? And what do you throw?

CHALLENGES:  Professor Ralph takes on Petunia and Chicken (Because I loved Animal Engine’s The Vindlevoss Family Circus Spectacular! last year).

THROWS: Rock. And when we throw it we throw it hard.

CHALLENGED BY: The Canuck Cabaret - who also threw ROCK leaving you both with a DRAW, allowing you to DRAW one more breath – perfect for someone who is on the verge of a Loss Of Breath, wouldn’t you say?

Thanks PROFESSOR RALPH’S LOSS OF BREATH for participating in The Happiest Medium’s FRIGID New York Festival 2014 Q&A. And for playing our game! You’re officially ROCK in any and all challenges.  You may win, you may lose – who knows! This is how it works in the crazy world of the Rock, Paper, Scissors Tournament of DEAAAAATH!

For the rest of you don’t forget to check out PROFESSOR RALPH’S LOSS OF BREATH !


Feb 20, 8:40PM
Feb 23, 3:40PM
Feb 26, 8:40PM
Mar 05, 7:05PM
Mar 08, 12:30PM
The Kraine Theater | $10.00 / $15.00


Horse Trade Theater Group will present the 8th Annual FRIGID New York Festival at The Kraine Theater (85 East 4th Street between 2nd Avenue and Bowery) and UNDER St. Marks (94 St. Marks Place between 1st Avenue and Avenue A) February 19-March 9. Tickets are available for purchase in advance at or by calling 212-868-4444. 


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