The Author's Thumb

"The Author's Thumb" is a play that promises a night of satiric humor, a man who walks on his knees, and Huncamunca love.  Not sure why a man would walk on his knees? Wondering just what Huncamunca means?  Then perhaps you can understand how wonderfully strange, superbly entertaining, and absolutely hilarious this play is.

"The Author's Thumb" was adapted from Henry Fielding's 1730 play, "The Life and Death of Tom Thumb the Great."  Don't be alarmed by the mention of the year.  The play is anything but antiquated.  Sure, plenty of Old English is tossed about, but one can still catch the numerous sexual innuendos, murder plots, and other modern phenomenons that make this play so appealing.

One of the great things about this play is the humor that is laced throughout.  For example, Blake Walker does a marvelous job playing Tom Thumb, although he is certainly not thumb-sized.  No, Blake meanders his way around the stage on his knees, which sport little brown boots.  When Tom needs to sword-fight or run, Blake occasionally stands up and walks for a moment, giving the audience a look that clearly says, "This is a lot faster."  The audience's cackles and roars prove that this silly humor makes the play.

In addition to the man on his knees, we have over-exaggerated deaths.  The stabbed stumble about, moaning "I am slain," while other members of the cast jump along with them, hoping to catch them if ever they do fall.  We have a giantess who wears armor that accentuates her oversized breasts.  The breasts, naturally, have been known to poke a man or two in the eye.  The giantess, of course, wears six or seven inch pumps.  We have King Arthur, who jumps up and down and squeals over a boy with his daughter Huncamunca.  There is even the queen who weighs her virtue on one hand, and her desire for a man who is not her husband on the other.  Let's guess which hand wins.  Lastly, we have Harriot, who gazes at the object of her affection with an open-mouthed, glaze-eyed stare that truly captures the schoolgirl crush.  (And cracked me up for the entire play).

I would have gone to see this play anywhere, but the fact that it is showing at Theatre Unlimited made the experience that much better.  It is a small theatre, and the audience has a sense of closeness as they laugh and cheer together.  There is no pressure to sit with your back straight and your hands in your lap.  The comfortable reclining chairs allow the audience to view the play in comfort and to really lose themselves in the show.  And, for those who desire a treat at intermission, freshly baked cookies and cold soda can be purchased for only a dollar each.

"The Author's Thumb" was written and directed by Dennis Gersten, who aided in the creation of NYC's Stagewrights, Inc., a twenty-one year old playwrights' theatre company.  He has directed and performed in many original works.  The talented cast that act in this hysterical play includes Blake Walker, Lyndie Renee, Christopher Le Crenn, Jon Mullich, Noel Evangelisti, Carol Sigurdson, Elaine Capogeannis, Andrew Graves, James Kevin Ward, Elizabeth Wells, and Steve Peterson.

"The Author's Thumb" is showing at Theatre Unlimited until November 7, 2004, Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 pm, Sundays at 7:00 pm.  Theatre Unlimited is located at 10943 Camarillo St. (at Lankershim), in North Hollywood.

Tickets are $15 for general admission, and $12 for seniors and students.  Call (866) 811-4111 for reservations, or go to www.theatermania.com for online ticketing. 

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