Scott Cupper played the title character of “The Dead Prince” musical with perfect comic timing and nuance. Whether he is pulling another dead mouse from his ears or walking in one or another gait seemingly drawn from a cornucopia of neurological disorders, he is a delight to watch.
Cupper is clearly a young actor to watch as his career moves him up the ladder.
Michael Thomas Downey as the Maldorf, the wizard who had tricked death but is stuck for eternity in a mirror, was also noteworthy in bringing his part to life.
That said, it’s difficult to know who the natural audience for this play is. Ostensibly a fairy tale, it has none of the magic and whimsy of a typical children’s show. It is highly verbal and loaded with inside jokes like mimicking Bob Dylan singing “Sarah” and self-referential moments such as when the leader of forest bandits does an aside asking the audience if we really thought they’d be left out of the script. These are not characters with whom adults or children can connect with emotionally, but rather caricatures from an imagined fairy tale world.
Perhaps this is a play for those who thrive on performance gags, of which there is no shortage in this production under the direction of Paul S. Holmquist. For example, the princess appears when she is pulled out of a drawer. In addition to the aforementioned mice pulled from ears, there are also owl puppets and dead bat props.
The Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs has selected this play for the Storefront Theater at 66 East Randolph and it will run until December 22, 2013.
Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays 7:30
Sundays 2 P.M.
For tickets and information visit the Strange Tree website.
Photos: Emily Schwartz