Monday, November 2, 2009

Austin theater wrap-up

Posted on Mon, Nov 2, 2009 at 11:57 PM

On Saturday, I headed up to Austin for a theater twofer! First up: the sundry pleasures of EVIL DEAD, THE MUSICAL at the Salvage Vanguard theater. An off-Broadway hit from a few years ago, EVIL DEAD spoofs both the original film and its cult status, with plenty of gore (the first three rows are a splash zone) and a zillion tongue- and axe-in-cheek musical numbers. (My favorite: a tango to the desperate "What The Fuck Was That?", though "Do the Necronomicon" features a delightful parody of EVIL DEAD's distant cousin, THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW.) Salvage Vanguard's production didn't bring the level of polish that I've seen in the past--some dubious singing and some terrible miking--but the energy level was as high as its body count. Some enterprising SA theater should book this a.s.a.p.: they'd make ... a killing.

Saturday night presented me with something like theatrical whiplash, as I went from EVIL DEAD to Euripides' TROJAN WOMEN, presented by the MFA program at UT. This was solid work, and even when the director and adapters (Halena Kays, Meghan Kennedy, and Kimber Lee) made some baffling choices--such as Andromache's entrance as a mean drunk--they at least had the courage of their convictions. The trial of Helen absolutely sizzled, with first rate direction, and a really cool multimedia blitz of electric signage and mass media; the presentation of the gods Poseidon and Athena, by contrast, seemed badly sci-fi and even silly. Still, it's always a pleasure to see Euripides taken so seriously and thoughtfully, and without the heavy-handed pomposity of many recent anti-war adaptations. Sometimes universalizing is indeed the way to go.

-Tom Jenkins, SA Current theater critic

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