Mightier Than The Pen

Making The World A Bitter Place

Nonexistent Theater Critic Only One in Attendance

with 2 comments

In this economy, if by some freakish set of circumstances you find yourself with the disposable income and the time to take in a Broadway musical, do yourself a favor: avoid Calphalon Madness. Trust me.

Even you are a fan, God help you, of Jazzercise, or of Kurt Cobain’s posthumous work, stay far away. Director “Morbid” Lee O’beese was probably trying to play the avant-garde card, but he lost his avant-garde cred when Puppy Credenza flopped two years ago. O’beese couldn’t direct his Dadaist way out of a fat little paper bag. Least of all when the concept of “plot” has been cast to the badgers.

Which is not to say that he left his cast completely directionless; no, O’beese knew enough to give vague lip service to his notion of this poor excuse for a script, just barely enough for Walter Mondale, otherwise a skilled performer, to pull off an almost-convincing Albert Einstein on anabolic steroids. In Calphalon, Mondale reprises his role as the hulking genius that made him popular in Phil Landerer’s A Thousand and One Arabian Knife Fights, for which he was nominated for a Chubby Award.

But Mondale is easily the only redeeming quality in a show with no discernible talent on the part of the cast, musicians or composer. The sets, badly lit and not proportional to the stage, call to mind a rabbit warren as painted by Mark Rothko. The music, charitably described as tonal, hovers somewhere between Webern on a bad day and my ten-year-old’s novice trumpet practice on a bad day.

O’beese almost had something going in the first act, when the curtain was raised and four talking hippos lolled about an imaginary mud puddle to the sound of chirping spiders, but the novelty wore off in about eight seconds. Not even the floating chainsaw that cheerfully dismembered each pachyderm could save the show at that point. Theatergoers began filing out four minutes into the first act; by the time the curtain went down for the intermission thirty-five minuets later, I was the only one remaining in the house. Even half the cast had abandoned ship.

And yet I am pretty certain that made no difference to the quality of the production. It doesn’t take much, after all, to have a man stand at stage left and yell obscenities for twelve uninterrupted minutes, even if it’s done to the rhythm of a jazzed up Chopin mazurka played only on percussion instruments. When my cell phone went off during the second act, it improved the experience, if only by reminding me that there may yet be hope for humanity: at least my ring tone hews to a recognizable tune.

Written by Thag

July 4, 2011 at 1:23 am

2 Responses

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  1. I saw the show. It wasn’t that good. And I like talking hippos (as well as talking Hopis). Dismembering them was uncalled for.


    June 7, 2012 at 2:50 am

    • Yeah, well, the review was written almost a year ago. They’ve had time, à la Spiderman: Turn on the Dark, to revamp. Meaning to put the vampires back in, among other things. There was only room for improvement anyway.


      June 7, 2012 at 7:57 am

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