Who wouldn't want to hear a bunch of rich Utah folk argue about money, god, talking tumors, marijuana and cross dressing in iambic pentameter?
The stage is set as Swagart, the mayor and reverend of Moab, announces that the father of the wealthy Ridge clan is missing and presumed dead. The will states that the father's total assets will go to his son Kirin, while his daughter Serena has been left nothing.
With the encouragement of his New York city-slicker girlfriend, Kirin agrees to sell his father's land to the maniacal, absurdly narcissistic developer Mordecan who plans to commercialize the pristine property. Although Serena is wholly against Mordecan's plan, she soon becomes the target of his bizarre affections.
The father's hippie brother also lives on the land and maintains his free-loving, pot-smoking lifestyle by conning desperate messiah-seeking tourists. And to complicate matters further, the cast is rounded out by a hair obsessed nuclear terrorist, a few cross dressers, Modecon's cult-like staff and a shape shifting coyote.
What is most impressive about this comedy is that it's written in the verse and style of a Shakespearean comedy while taking place in a small town in modern day Utah. Although at first the lines sound affected and slightly hard to understand, once the listener gets into the rhythms of the actors, it is quite impressive how they incorporate so much of the mid-western dialect into iambic pentameter. Most of the lines are filled with Shakespeare-style puns and word play, which at times are brilliant and at times childishly bizarre.
The comedy at times shifts into a more dramatic gear, and while this is typical of Shakespeare's style, the play is so grossly over-the top and the characters are so stereotyped that the serious moments cannot create real emotion. The more dramatic second act felt slightly scattered and the play was too long, running over 3 hours.
Overall, however, the cast is likeable and the show is crammed with a zany energy. Christopher Paul Heart plays Mordecon with a devilish zest. Swagart, played by the dynamic Dan Ethridge, also amps up the show with his delusional belief in himself as the next messiah.
Midnight Brainwash Revival is smart, original and bizarrely funny.
Sacred Fools Theater
660 N. Heliotrope Dr., Hollywood.
Between Normandie and Vermont and is located east of the Melrose Avenue exit of the 101
Freeway. Some free stacked parking available onsite.
May 20- June 26, 2004. Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m.