Who¹s afraid of crying wolf?


By Stuart Gordon and Lenny Kleinfeld
Directed by Philip Baloun
Non-union showcase (closed)
Review by Marshall Yaeger

This sexy sci-fi spectacle (drawing from such sources as Wagner's Ring and especially the Wizard of Oz and Superman) offered a superabundance of gorgeous costumes, people, and special effects possibly unprecedented for an engagement of only 24 performances. Obviously the show wants to overtake Broadway, if not the Galaxy. But if it has the threads, does it have the legs?

The director certainly knows how to make magic in the theatre and spared no expense to deliver a surfeit of glorious surprises and wit.

In one example, a motley-colored tree (scenery was by Cecile Bouchier) came to life to hand an apple to the hero whose arm, when he ate the fruit, turned into branches. The hero's companion saved the day by reversing time (even speaking backwards!) to retrieve the deadly moment and implode the tree with fire. The solutions presented by this challenging sequence were beautiful to watch.

The pumped-up, handsome Kane Schirmer, as the comic-book hero "Cumulus" of the play, was at his best showing off his tumbler's prowess or his dancer's grace, especially in the fight scenes, brilliantly choreographed by Chris Harrison.

But tethered by a Clark Kentish doppelgänger, the hero never lost his doltishness. Partly for this reason, Schirmer never grasped the power the playwrights gave his adversaries, such as the arch-foe, "Xander" (who, given a riveting performance by "Kofi," could have been titled "The Magnificent").

The delightfully campy Todd Alan Johnson, as the hero's evil twin, vibrated fits of orgasms and cowered with a squeaky peep that never failed to amuse.

Denise Thomas as the hero's companion was far too attractive to be 35,000 years old. But Ed Crescimanni as an absent-minded oracle was properly Polonius-like as the narrator. And Scott Thomson as a faithless lackey bopped around in a blue monkey suit amusingly. (José M. Rivera designed the wonderful costumes.)

Darlene Mann made her great insect-vamp character almost touching in its demise.

Others included Chris MacEwan as a wheezing progenitor and Tanya Oesterling as a rainbow-haloed syzygy of the two brothers.

The artful "Wow!" effects included truly fabulous lighting by Peter L. Smith using lasers, strobes, projections, and an amazing starlight backdrop. Stereophonic sound by Bernard Fox synthesized organ sounds (programmed by Richard Dysinger) to great advantage.

If there was a problem in the play it was the hero's doltishness, which drained him of the mastery kids love to read about in comics. Thus his episodic jeopardies cried wolf a bit too often, and he only declared he learned from them. As the joke wore thin, the hero faded, and the myth stayed hidden in the mists.

Still, the production could easily become a cult hit-in which case look to the costumes to start a brand new fashion craze.

Box Score:
Writing 1
Directing 2
Acting 2
Set 2
Costumes 2
Lighting/Sound 2
Copyright 1997 Marshall Yaeger

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