What they say it is:
Written by Carl Grose & Spymonkey Adapted by Emma Rice Curio is thrilled to present the NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE of Spymonkey’s hilarious take on Greek tragedy. Think James Bond meets Oedipus with imaginative storytelling and jaw-dropping physical comedy; this is the outrageous story of the ultimate dysfunctional family. Rated R for ridiculousness!
I’m banging this review out quickly, so forgive my less-than-my-typical thoroughness. Tara and I attended two events in this weekend; though our blog doesn’t have an official policy statement on what we do/don’t review, we typically focus our efforts on smaller, indie type events–ones that don’t get enough press coverage or attention from big media. Following this logic, though our weekend also included a Rob Schneider standup comedy show, I’d rather spend time talking about Oedipussy at Curio–not only because it’s a smaller event, but because it was honestly a good deal funnier.
Don’t let the name of this show put you off (it almost did me, and I’m pretty open minded guy, but it just sounded kind of crass)–this is a great, comical event with a ton of originality and laugh-out-loud moments. I can be pretty dense in an interpretive sense, so I didn’t realize the performance’s title implied a mashup with James Bond’s Octopussy until the curtain was already up and ‘Bond Girls’ (mostly men in diaper-style togas) were introducing the show. It’s a four-person cast, and in typical Curio style, the quartet uses their short-staffed setup to humorous advantage. Costume changes happen with amazing swiftness, actors play multiple roles simultaneously (sometimes switching within a single scene), props are changed on the fly by the players themselves. Every member of the troupe is doing some sort of double duty in virtually every scene–and though it might sound wretched on paper, it all works wonderfully.
Chaos and low-budget brilliance are one of Curio’s calling cards–think The Muppet Show meets Monty Python-and the humor is decidedly camp, slapstick, and good old fashioned groaners. In this particular show, the tragedy of Oedipus is transformed into a complete satirical send-up–nonsensical throughout, but still relatively loyal to the source material. I tend to roll my eyes at many forms of modern comedy (juvenile-for-the-sake-of-it always makes me wince) but Oedipussy isn’t dumbed down or excessively lowbrow. Rather, the production is filled with smart showmanship aimed at intelligent adults who don’t mind seeing a hallowed Greek play turned upside-down via insane comic goofs. There are some meta-nods to the traditional tragic elements of Oedipus’ tragedy (players break character and speak directly to the audience about personal events in their own lives) but instead of sticking strictly to the myth’s standard text (which is notoriously dark and lacking in any sort of real redemption), Curio’s interpretation opts for the deliciously hilarious and unabashedly absurd.
Spanning 90 minutes, Oedipussy is an entertaining, excellent opportunity to see just how funny a small theater show can be. Also, if you’re a regular attendee of Curio, you may wish to make a point of making it out for this specific show, as this may be your last chance to see veteran cast member Harry Slack with the troupe. Per some of Mr. Slack’s onstage / out-of-character lines, he’s (allegedly) leaving Curio to follow his dream of being a standup comic. Though I regretted to learn of his departure, I know that Tara and I sincerely wish him all the best–he’s become a familiar, welcome face in the all-too-small West Philadelphia theater scene, and we’ll always remember his wonderful performances with Curio.
Initially sitting in the theater with Clay, I noted that the stage set was almost entirely white and composed of angular, perhaps futuristic-looking shapes. Along this line, I thought there might be 2001/HAL space references worked into the play, but it turned out I was wrong.
My other initial impression was, unfortunately, that it was such a shame there were so few attendants at the show. This feeling was only reinforced after seeing such a funny and entertaining production with such a talented cast. I was happy to have witnessed it, but sad that the house wasn’t packed for these deserving performers.
Let us recall the legend of Oedipus– he kills his dad and boinks his mom. In this updated version, Curio Thater does a hilarious version of ‘mom boinking’ (lots of physical comdey and pelvis thrusting). However, I don’t quite know how this particular adaptation fits into Curio’s (apparent) sex & gender themes for this season? Unless they’re playing on the deviant sexual nature of Oedipus . . . but still, wouldn’t he be excused from guilt…after all, the GODS made him do it—he wasn’t intending to be incestuous?
Personally, I don’t love Monty Python, and I agre that there was a lot of their influence in this production, but i did enjoy this show– maybe because the performers were so versatile and played so many roles. One gentleman was an actor, singer, and dancer, plus he was also a kick ass saxophone player/david bowie impersonator. Although there was alot of physical comedy (some of it pretty crass) I thought that it was well played and funny . . . even the pedophile jokes were well done (if such a thing can be possible). There were even opportunities for audience participation, including a sing along or two.
Above, Clay mentions that Harry Slack is leaving the troupe; it is with great sadness we say goodbye to Harry, however it was a pleasure to attend a show that included his parents in the audience (who also got recognized from stage during the show itself)!