Film / The Playhouse

"This fellow Keaton seems to be the whole show"

Buster Keaton buys a ticket at entrance of the Playhouse and joins an audience (consisting of Buster Keaton, Buster Keaton, Buster Keaton, Buster Keaton, Buster Keaton, Buster Keaton, Buster Keaton, and Buster Keaton) to watch a variety show featuring musicians, comics, synchronized dancers, and a minstrel act with Keaton filling every role, including that of stagehand. It turns out it was All Just a Dream as Keaton wakes up in a bedroom — actually a stage set that is promptly dismantled. He plays various roles behind the scenes and onstage while pursuing one of the show girls, who is a twin, only slightly daunted by his tendency to confuse the friendly twin with her disinterested sister.

This film is in the public domain and may be viewed in its entirety at Google Video.

Includes examples of

  • Adults Dressed as Children: Buster dons the traditional sailor suit to portray a juvenile audience member.
  • All Just a Dream: The first part of the short.
  • Backwards-Firing Gun: Happens with a wrongly assembled cannon.
  • Chase Scene
  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Buster tries to empty the twins' glass-walled water tank with a teacup. In his defense, he had suffered a Tap on the Head not long before.
  • Drag Queen: Buster Keaton plays all the audience members — including a flapper with bobbed hair, a harried mother, and a tetchy society dame.
  • Everything's Better with Monkeys: One of the acts is a performing orangutan.
  • Exploding Fish Tanks: The twins' act involves a large glass tank filled with water, which is smashed to prevent a drowning.
  • Human Ladder: Both ladders and an inverted pyramid during the Zouave Guards act.
  • It Makes Sense in Context: Buster pretending he's an orangutan.
  • Literal-Minded: Judging from what Buster does to the punch clock and how he uses an ax labeled "For Fire Only."
  • Loads and Loads of Roles: Buster plays not only every member of the audience (which includes several couples, an old woman, and a little kid), he also plays every member of a nine-man minstrel show—and all nine are on-screen at the same time.
  • Man on Fire: Smoking while wearing a false beard = bad idea.
  • Minstrel Shows
  • No More for Me
  • Painted Tunnel, Real Train: Buster appears to dive into the painted ocean backdrop (in reality he jumps through a slit in the canvas).
  • Pantomime Animal
  • Polar Opposite Twins: Buster falls in love with a girl, who reciprocates; unfortunately, he keeps mixing her up with her twin sister, who doesn't.
  • Proscenium Reveal: The dismantling of Buster Keaton's "bedroom".
  • Scooby-Dooby Doors: Buster thinks this is what's happening after he unknowingly escorts identical twin sisters into separate yet adjacent dressing rooms. Played straight in a later chase scene.
  • Sibling Team: The sisters. (Oddly, their act does not exploit the fact that they are identical twins.)
  • The Stoic — Subverted; Buster is visibly annoyed at one point after mixing up the twins again, and he's very expressive while pretending to be an orangutan.
  • Super Not-Drowning Skills: The point of the twins' act: "This young lady can stay under water longer than the bottom of a river."
  • Take That!: The theater program crediting Buster Keaton with every role, and the audience member's remark, "This fellow Keaton seems to be the whole show," are jabs at silent film director/actor/screenwriter/producer Thomas H. Ince, who was not shy about putting his name in the credits of his films.
  • Tap on the Head
  • Undercrank: Used for the Zouave Guards routine.
  • Visual Pun: Buster's treatment of the punch clock. (Ooh, right in the face!)