Cast stretched thin in ‘After-Dinner Joke’

Meredith Stypinski (left) and Lorna Nogueira in “The After-Dinner Joke.”
Meredith Stypinski (left) and Lorna Nogueira in “The After-Dinner Joke.”Christopher McKenzie

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A play with 66 scenes sounds like a marathon, but at the Charlestown Working Theater, Caryl Churchill’s “The After-Dinner Joke” whizzes by in 75 minutes.

Originally a TV drama aired on the BBC in 1978, this black comedy calls for a boatload of characters that include an Arab gardener, a guerrilla, a cowboy, a thief who robs a bank and runs along the roof of a train, a sheikh who buys Marks & Spencer, and a pop star who’s found Jesus but can’t keep 10-year-old girls from finding him. Whistler in the Dark manages with just five actors, though at times the multicasting stretches credibility.

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