This fast and loose enterprise has been playing off and on at The Alley Theater for several months now, always Fridays at 10 p.m. and always (almost) sold out. The fact that it plays in a tight, 49-seat house in the bowels of The Pointe on East Washington Street may account for that paucity of available seats, but it may also have something to do with the fact that it is, quite simply, funny as hell.
I once saw it observed that if Woody Allen “shot” his films, then you might describe the movies of Mel Brooks as having been “blown from a cannon,” and something like that might also apply to this rambunctious staging. There is a clever script from Scott Goodman that positions the material as homage to the original three films (do I need to name them?) before the seemingly endless series of updated editions that always include newly expurgated sections that tamper with the sacred texts. Mr. Goodman and his collaborators have included in their show satirical, yet assuredly disdainful, commentary on such changes as having Greedo shoot first, but they wisely do not belabor the point.
The game-for-anything cast brings a highly charged, go-for-broke improvisational energy to their work that seems open to anything, yet their timing was expert. Mr. Goodman himself leads the way, and he is matched beat-for-beat by Tony King, each playing a variety of roles with a forceful commitment to the broad and silly comedic style. In fact, one of the most enjoyable aspects is the fact that Luke, Chewbacca, C-3PO, Lando Calrissian and others are played by different people exchanging wigs and simple costume pieces as they rush between scenes. It seems random and unexpected enough to suggest anarchy or, at the very least, disorganization, but the truth is surely that the actors can only rush pell-mell through the action with such enviable ferocity because there is enough structure and foundation in the script and direction (by cast member Chris Petty) to allow for it.
The other members of the tight ensemble are Kenn Parks, playing Han Solo as another entry in his Alley Theater gallery of rogues known for their foolhardy courage and/or hubris. Mr. Parks has become this company’s go-to actor for parodying that all-too-familiar macho swagger that runs rampant through late-21st Century American action films. Valerie Hopkins juggles Luke and Leia with aplomb and sports a version of the infamous metal bikini (from The Return of the Jedi, but if I have to tell you that, then maybe this is not the show for you?) with enough va-voom to make the most of the moment. Director Petty rounds out the group in yeoman fashion, with a particularly memorable rendition of Jabba the Hutt.
The tone and energy remind me of Midnight Movies at The Vogue in the days of my youth, and point to the young, ready-to-party audience that has developed with some loyalty to The Alley. Shows like this one – along with the recent mountings of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy radio scripts, Point Break Live! and The Matrix, A Parody, not to mention the first Inhuman Festival of New American Undead Plays – have cultivated a following from patrons who may not otherwise be regular theatre-goers, yet have been known to make repeat visits to some of these offerings. It is a menu of often experimental forays into self-referential American popular-culture, sometimes ragged around the edges, but always feeding off the lack of uptown polish with a certain pride and a sure understanding of the counter-culture core of its base.
Star Wars: The Original Trilogy in 60 Minutes or Less!
May 18, 25, June 1 and 8th. All shows begin at 10pm. Tickets are $10.00. Season Subscribers may use improv tickets for this show!
Tim & Dair Mathistad
Katie & Chris Haulter
Kathy Todd Chaney
Angie Reed Garner