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‘Super Monkey’ throws out lots of ideas, but too few stick

There’s an old school-of-thought in playwriting that if you introduce a gun over the mantelpiece in Act 1, you had better use it before the end of the show. I thought of this during the last half of “Super Monkey,” Jon Ferguson’s latest piece, when a fruit plate is continually promised — but never shows up.

It seems like a trivial point, but in the largely plotless piece, I was looking for anything to keep my attention. The work — now playing the Dowling Studio — tosses tons of ideas against the wall, but too few of them stick, leaving long stretches where the only thing to contemplate is the make-up of that fruit plate.

Set at some high-tech, high-end urban condominium, “Super Monkey” follows the lives and foibles of the residents, employees and occasional passers-by. It’s more a collection of skits, observations and images than a full-fledged story — and there’s nothing wrong with that approach at all. However, that work needs to be engaging — funny, dramatic, thought-provoking, something — to work. Instead, the piece (created by the ensemble, so they can all share in the blame) doesn’t get much further than the “modern people are shallow” trope that was played to death many years ago. The occasional brilliant moments — Anthony Sarnicki’s bits as a B-list TV actor — show the piece’s potential, but there isn’t enough here to fill a small side dish, let alone a full platter.

“Super Monkey” runs through Oct. 4 at the Dowling Studio at the Guthrie Theater, 818 South 2nd Street, Minneapolis. Tickets are $18 to $30. For information, call 612.377.2224 or visit online.

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