‘He Creeps’ is a fiercely funny farce from 3rd Eye Open Productions

Old and new jokey tropes combine in this comedy about how a woman can be deceived by her desire for 'a man.'

A farce is a comic drama that features buffoonery, trickery, and slapstick and usually has one-dimensional characters; the plots and situations often don’t make sense. From the ancient Greeks to playwrights like William Shakespeare, George Bernard Shaw, and Oscar Wilde, farces have kept the laughs coming. He Creeps is a new-school farce that uses old-school tropes.

The show played at a packed Publick Playhouse in Cheverly, Maryland, and was presented by 3rd Eye Open Productions and playwright Keith McDaniel Sr. The Playhouse, originally a 1940s theater, overflowed with energy and excitement from the audience. Director Tia Dae and Assistant Director Andre Strickland made He Creeps the most fun I’ve had in a theater in years.

Rochelle Vaughn (Renee), Mike Lorde (Rick), and Faheem Abdus Salaam (Al) in ‘He Creeps.’ Photo by Scott Midgett.

Like many farcical comedies, He Creeps focuses on two couples: corporate manager Barbara (Dr. Rita D. Lewis) and kept man/con man Rick (Mike Lorde); and Renee (Rochelle Vaughn) and capitalist go-getter Derrick (Delonta Richardson). Renee thinks Derrick is cheating, but she finds out that Barbara and Rick’s marriage is not so idyllic either. He Creeps demonstrates how a woman can be deceived by her desire for “a man” and how sly people could take advantage of her.

Shakespeare created many clown characters; Falstaff (1 Henry IV, 2 Henry IV) and Feste (Twelfth Night) come to mind. Faheem Abdus Salaam played a riotous “drunk from down the block” named Al. His character was the consummate Shakespearean clown, including braggadocio, a ninja outfit, and a spit take. Salaam earned dozens of laughs with his physical comedy and malapropisms; he also played one of the more difficult affects an actor can play: being drunk. What a stellar performance!

In the show, Al and Renee plot to bust Rick for his shenanigans with Sher(y)l (Trevenia Young-Bey). Also hovering over Rick is a local thug, pathetically named Ice Tray (the excellent Charles Barnes), who threatens, “Don’t come up short with my money!” Ice Tray’s name was the comedic gift that kept on giving. Rick’s mom, Ms. Foxx (LaVetta Jackson), turns up in all the excitement in the second act.

The marvelous Lewis played Barbara as the type of wife who gives “100% of me.” She craftily channeled her inner Lucille Ball in her sad/funny scenes; Lewis mastered the art of making crying funny. In one scene, Lewis made a profane and hilarious ad-lib when a scene partner called her by her real name; the house raised the roof with laughter.

Rick was a husband “who creeps because he can.” The fantastic Mike Lorde played Rick with the naivete of a mischievous bad boy. His physical comedy was on point.

Top: Mike Lorde (Rick), Charles Barnes (Ice Tray), LaVetta Jackson (Ms. Foxx); bottom: Charles Barnes (Ice Tray), Delonta Richardson (Derrick), Dr. Rita D. Lewis (Barbara), Rochelle Vaughn (Renee) in ‘He Creeps.’ Photos by Scott Midgett.

Richardson made Derrick a voice of reason. He excelled in his antagonistic (and sometimes physical) scenes with Rick. Vaughn garnered sympathy as a suspicious spouse, Renee. She spent a lot of her scenes eavesdropping on Rick.

Barnes stretched a role with relatively few lines into a memorable villain. He did this by injecting his performance with an impressive “mean mug” and silly-looking physical gestures. Acts like drawing a pistol turned into a one-step dance. Young-Bey had a memorable but controversial scene with Lewis in the second act. Jackson was a standout as the hard-as-rock Ms. Foxx in her scene.

The show often featured an interplay between songs like “It Takes a Fool to Learn” by the Spinners and “Tyrone” by Erykah Badu and lines said by the cast. This created a “call and response” from the audience. Set Designers Tabitha White (who passed away last November) and Brenda Grant created a sleek and modern set of Barbara and Rick’s living room that looked quite livable.

You’ve got to see He Creeps when it runs again. Dae and Strickland directed expertly, and the cast put on performances that were near perfect; none of the lines were drowned out by the laughter. As McDaniel said at the curtain, “We got it right.”

Running Time: Three hours, with a 15-minute intermission.

He Creeps played May 20 and 21, 2023, presented by 3rd Eye Open Productions, performing at the Publick Playhouse, 5445 Landover Road, Cheverly, MD. Tickets ($50) for future shows will be available online.

He Creeps: The Stage Play
By Keith McDaniel Sr.
Directed by Tia Dae

Barbara: Dr. Rita D. Lewis
Rick: Mike Lorde
Renee: Rochelle Vaughn
Derrick: Delonta Richardson
Sher(y)l: Trevenia Young-Bey
Al: Faheem Abdus Salaam
Ice Tray: Charles Barnes
Ms. Foxx: LaVetta Jackson

Assistant Director: Andre Strickland
Set Designers: The late Tabitha White and Brenda Grant
Music: NuDAE Entertainment and Dark Squad Entertainment
Costume Direction: NuDAE Entertainment
Props: Nu Dae Entertainment
Set Decoration: CATKIM
Light Designer: Steven Barker, Publick Playhouse



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