Patrick Brophy, Mike Slaton & Joseph Hatfield in Devil Boys from Beyond
Devil Boys from Beyond
By Buddy Thomas & Kenneth Elliot
Directed by Lucas Black
Review by Keith Waits
Entire contents copyright © 2014 by Keith Waits. All rights reserved.
Devil Boys from Beyond is a bitchy, campy, LGBTQ-updated spoof of low-budget alien invasion movies from the 1950’s that aspires to a heady level of pop-culture commentary. It never quite manages to pull it off completely, not that Pandora Productions doesn’t give it their all, its just that the script only intermittently supports the talent evident on and off the stage.
A flying saucer has landed in Lizard Lick Florida, followed by the disappearance of most of the men in the town, and the unexpected and rapid fertilization of the women left in town by aliens. Intrepid New York reporter Mattie Van Buren (Patrick Brophy) and estranged alcoholic photographer/husband Gregory Graham (Joseph Hatfield) are on the case, despite the obstruction of the more veteran “journalist” Lucinda Marsh (Michael J. Drury), a professional diva and personal rival for the affections of Mattie’s husband.
The play traffics in the genre tropes with a knowing wink, but is never as funny as it wants to be. The novelty of the male actors in drag is the source of much of the humor, and is as effective as it is here largely due to the expert playing of those donning wigs and brassieres. The ensemble is without shame in their attack and willingness to look utterly ridiculous when necessary, particularly Jason Cooper as Florence Wexler, the most enthusiastic of the Florida housewives who are ravaged by the aliens in disguise. Patrick Brophy and Michael Drury are a sight to see as Mattie and Lucinda, a face-off duel of distinctive period wigs: bullet-shaped brown vs. white, Barbara Bush curls, and they trade pointed barbs with relish. Mike Slaton delivers a curious but endearing Florida matron who lands the one bring the house down laugh in the first act.
The script improves in act two, and the resolution manages to give a nod to Pandora’s chosen theme for this season – marriage equality. Joseph Hatfield is a fine foil for the two divas, but his role is underwritten, as is the NYC newspaper editor played by Alex Craig, which points to the weakness of the text in not being ambitious enough to make more of the premise. As a framework for broadly played drag comedy, I suppose Devil Boys from Beyond will serve as a diverting entry to the Pandora season, but it could have been so much more. I could not help but be reminded of last season’s Pandora production of Five Lesbians Eating A Quiche (also ably directed by Lucas Black) in which similar period settings and iconography were put into service of a smarter and even more hilarious examination of gender roles. I know this sort of comparison drives theatre producers crazy, and I only do it now to suggest that perhaps we are spoiled by the good taste and artistic acumen of Michael Drury’s recent seasons.
The design work is appropriately kitschy, with a mix of period restraint and over-the-top garishness from Donna Lawrence-Downs, nice use of image projection in Karl Anderson’s set, and effectively suggestive music cues from Laura Ellis, although the samplings of the Close Encounters score seemed a little too obvious and even anachronistic given the general fealty to period detail, but I must confess such a quibble seems minor in a show that celebrates silliness and absurdity.
Devil Boys from Beyond
May 8, 9, 10, 15, 16, 17 @ 7:30 p.m.
May 11 & 18 @ 5:30 p.m. & May 17 2:00 PM
At The Henry Clay Theatre
604 South Third Street
Louisville, KY 40202