Friday, July 2, 2010

Shakespeare's King Phycus (Strange Tree Theatre Company)

Ahhhh, summer.
This is the time of year when everyone goes out to the public parks on vacation and sits in the miserable heat to watch some Shakespeare play that we don't understand while we scope out chicks (or dudes) who are on their blanket with chardonnay and cheese and throw around a frisbee at intermission and then go to a bar afterwards and never think about the play they just saw ever again.
Well, imagine all the fun of that, except in the meat packing district in a hot warehouse!

When my wife and I arrived at the Building Stage, we had just dined on Cuban food, so we were prepared for the refugee camp temperatures we were about to endure, but this evening was full of surprises!

The Strange Tree Group
is a young fresh company of jerks that I had only heard great things about like "These guys are good" and "They make original plays" so needless to say I was excited to see them work their magic I kept hearing about once.
The place was packed with eager Shakespeare fans, so I pretended I had an illness and had to sit closer to the stage. The friendly box office lady led us through the free beer drinking hippies to the second row, where we sat comfortably in the unbearable heat.
My wife and I had some of the free beer on tap. This particular evening they had "312" which is a fancy beer and also a fancy area code. I had a few and needed to belch, but right when I was about to let a few rip, I noticed that we were now in the elderly section of the audience and the ladies in front of us all had hearing aids. I panicked. If I burp in their ears, will their heads explode from the volume? They are already trying to understand this flowery language, will this put them over the edge? Just then, I forgot what I was thinking and let a loud one out, and I think they thought it was part of the show.
I settled in and read the program. This program is 27 pages long and has a whole made up backstory about this play which is fun to read but it also has a play summary. I think every play should have this because sometimes I don't know what the hell is going on, especially in a crazy play like this or the "Odd Couple".

Shakespeare's King Phycus is a world premier play by this guy who lives in Idaho or something named Tom Willmorth. You can tell that Willmorth loves Shakespeare a lot, because this whole play is about Shakespeare characters who live in this crazy world where they are all mixed up together and also, sometimes the characters rhyme for no reason except because people like that, I guess.
Did you ever see "Spaceballs"? Well, this is kind of like that, except for Shakespeare plays and the actors are better in this than in "Spaceballs".
King Phycus lives in a castle with Hamlet and Juliet who are siblings, and also Richard the Third is there because he is going to marry Juliet but really is in love with Lady MacBeth.
Romeo lives in Rome with Julius Caesar and some other guys and they are going to fight King Phycus' country?
I think that's right.
It's not really that important what's happening because the most important things here are the jokes, and there are a lot.
There are fart jokes, boob jokes, tongue twisters, joke songs, physical jokes, topical jokes, jokes about AIDS, mama jokes, gay jokes, vagina jokes, penis jokes, scary jokes, and funny jokes.
There are only six actors in the show, but they each play 49 characters, which is CRAZY and fun and sometimes you think they are going to mess up but they don't.

Leading the charge of actors is Michael T. Downey as King Phycus. This dude is so awesome and kind of looks like Breon Bliss before his bizarre diet and salad commercials. His speaking voice is to die for and he has funny faces.

Bob Kruse is this dude that I kind of have a crush on, because he is the weirdest dude you have ever seen. He is tall and looks at you like you are an alien, no matter if you are an alien or not! Plus he is a good singer!

There is a woman in the Chicago theater scene that has captured all of our hearts and we have all thought about her in the bed where we think she can't hear our thoughts and her name is Carolyn Klein. If you don't know who she is, you probably think she is some crazy Jewish girl because of her name, but she isn't. She is blonde and in this play she makes a lot of boob jokes, but never shows her boobs, so if that is what you are going to go see this play for, than just don't go. Carolyn is incredible anyway as Lady Macbeth and she also plays this black lady nurse.

Scott Cupper plays the Chorus (which is like a narrator) and at first I thought he did a bad job because I didn't know what the hell was going on, but it's not his fault because maybe you aren't supposed to know. Anyway, he is pretty awesome too, and has a really funny joke in the show, but it's a surprise so I won't tell you what it is.

Delia Baseman is awesome. Wanna know why? Because she has to play all the lame characters in this like Juliet, but man, you couldn't tell from her performance because she was on FIRE.

I know every girl wants to play Juliet, but girls, no dudes like the chicks who play Juliet because she is usually a jerk and thinks she is why people want to see the play, when really it is Mercutio. Mercutio is the best, and is not in this play.

Finally, the last performer in this piece is a man named Stuart Ritter. To say that this man is handsome and great and funny and kind and sweet would be the equivalent of me calling him an ugly dog's penis because he is so much more than that. This is some of the finest work he has ever done, and I have never seen him in anything else before.

I was just so excited to see such new interesting work being done, and when it was over, I clapped and clapped and my wife and I talked about it for a few minutes afterwards even! My wife loved the set, and I loved the strange girl playing drums upstairs.

Go see this play if you want to like something for once in your stupid life!!!

Shakespeare's King Phycus


  1. holy shite i went to grad school with the inimitable carolyn klein (we called her ck1 back then, and i can see from this review she still is rockin it), and read a lot about this weirdo from idaho who "discovered" this manuscript. can't be happier for the whole crew..! kudos.

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