Sunday, May 13, 2012

Devil Boys from Beyond

Farcical romp at convergence continuum doesn’t quite romp enough

Convergence-continuum, known among the local theatre folk as cc, has as its purpose a request to the audience to, “leave behind the conventional reality of everyday life and cross the threshold into an experience of the alternate reality.” The theatre goes out of its way to find off-beat, often mind blowing scripts. Their loyal audience knows what to expect, and usually gets it.

Buddy Thomas and Kenneth Eilliott’s script, DEVIL BOYS FROM BEYOND, has Artistic Director Clyde Simon’s “produce me-stamp” embossed all over it. Picture this: aliens from outer space, cross dressing, 1950 space age television characters come to life, men with their shirts off, lots of special effects needed…come on, this is a cc dream script.

DEVIL BOYS FROM BEYOND is a campy spoof of the 1950’s sci-fi movies with a drag show twist. It won the 2009 NY Fringe Overall Excellence Award for Outstanding Play and was a nominee for the 2010 GLAAD Award for Outstanding New York Off-Off Broadway production.

The story centers on a Pulitzer prize-winning woman journalist flying off to Lizard Lick, Florida, the hickiest hick-town in all of America, to investigate the sighting and landing of men from Pluto. The script is filled with flying saucers, backstabbing reporters, hissy-fits, muscle hunks, and men with fake boobs in pumps!

The New York production was called: “Hilarious,” “One of the funniest shows in a long time” and “A honey of a laugh riot.”

As can be expected, there is lots of ridiculous. But, and I thought I’d never write of a Simon staging: the production needed more romp. It also needed a more consistent 1950 black-and-white television approach. It’s not that the audience, at least the typical cc audience won’t enjoy themselves. They will. But there could have been hysteria, rather than bursts of giggles.

Amy Bistok-Bunce, as Mattie Van Buren, has the perfect cadence and sound to create Lois Lane, of TV’s Superman fame, come to life. Her enunciation and vocal pattern harks back to early ’50 shows. She even has the staccato moves down pat.

Zac Hudak, as the cross dressing Lucinda Marsh, Mattie’s rival, hisses and cat fights well, but shows inconsistency in character development. Jonathan Wilhelm, as the bouncing-bosomed Dotty Primrose, one of the locals, whose pot-bellied husband has been whisked away by the aliens and replaced by studly Geoffrey Hoffman (Tattoo), has some fine moments. Clint Elston (Gort) flexes well as another of the aliens who replaces a hapless Lizard Lick resident.

Tim Coles doesn’t get the Perry White editor of Superman down pat. He’s much too real. The rest of the cast needed some time watching videos of early television drama to figure out how to create the characters alluded to in the script. Oh, for true creation of characters as seen in FRONT PAGE DETECTIVE, SPACE PATROL and CASEY, CRIME PHOTOGRAPHER.

Capsule Judgement: DEVIL BOYS FROM BEYOND is fun. It could have been hysterical with a more farcical, 1950’s stylistic performance approach.