Monday, March 14, 2016

Bullshot Crummond...—Lakewood Theatre Company—Lake Oswego, OR

“Stay Tuned…”

A wonderful throw-back to the old serials/cliffhangers of yesteryear, the World Premiere of Bullshot Crummond:  The Evil Eye of Jabar and the Invisible Bride of Death, by Ron House and directed by Alan Shearman, is playing at Lakewood, 368 S. State St. in Lake Oswego (parking lot at the rear of the building), through April 10th.  For more information, go to their site at www.lakewood-center.org or call 503-635-3901.

The above phrase would continue with, something like, “…for the next exciting episode next week of….”  And if you don’t know what I’m talking about, then you either were not alive then, or slept through the 30’s-50’s.  These were the unforgettable days of the Saturday afternoon movie matinees, where you would sometimes get a triple feature, a newsreel, a cartoon and the inevitable serial or cliffhanger (about 15 minutes long), all for about a quarter, where they would invite you back, week after week, to see the further adventures of…?

The modern translation of them in recent years of the adventure serials are the Indiana Jones, Alan Quartermaine, the Bond series, Star Wars or any of the Marvel superhero films.  This play is definitely a homage to them with the dashing, handsome hero; the ravishing, virginal beauty; the dastardly, evil-beyond-words, scientist; the bumbling, comic sidekick; and the (non-virginal), ravished femme-fatale.  They also included a variety of expendable henchmen and some very hokey, not-so-special effects.

Well, folks, fear not, they are all here in this production.  Our hero is none other than the British secret agent, Bullshot Crummond (Spencer Conway).  The maiden heroine, apple of Bullshot’s eye, and core of his existence, is the lovely, Rosemary (Kelly Stewart).  His war buddy, Algy (Andrew Harris), is his faithful friend.  The very bad man is Otto (Rick Warren), a master criminal trying to…wait for it…take over the world (no surprise there, I suppose).  His niece…er, mistress (maybe both in these new age incarnations) is Lenya (Stephanie Heuston), who actually has a couple of good points going for her.  And one of the expendables is Rosemary’s Aunt Charlotte (Burl Ross) and he, and Harris, play all the other assorted slaves, servants, soldiers and silly oddballs.

The plot (and here’s where I may get into trouble, as I can’t tell too much of it without spoiling surprises) has to do with a jewel and crown that are needed to fit into an ancient machine located in the Invisible City of Jabar, in the tomb of Nefertiti in the desert that, when activated, will destroy the world (or, at least, England).  In the meantime, we have to also deal with the allure of slender ankles, invisible beings, quicksand, hypnotic trances, the disappearance of Scotland (no great loss there, according to Crummond), flying carpets, trains, planes and automobiles (and ships), puppets, sheep and a tenacious dog, Buttercup (I have it on good authority that no animals were injured during this production).  And, since I have, by now, completely confused you, then you’ll just have to see it and sort it out for yourself, won’t you?

Believe me, it is all great fun!  And, what I found most enjoyable, was the low-tech approach to the production, thanks to a very inventive designer, John Gerth.  He has the imagination, inventiveness and determination to make it all work, and it does, smashingly.  With all the C/G and high tech effects in films and plays now, it is good to see that one can still just enjoy the simpler ways of observing things (don’t get me started on high-tech vs. the human touch).  The script, and Shearman’s directing of it, has its tongue rooted to its cheek and is very well cast.  Also, the set changes are amazingly smooth and quick.  Spot-on, on all fronts!

Conway is the daring hero in all his glory (ala, Ronald Coleman, Stewart Granger, et. al.) with the impeccable good looks and dashing manner, a cut above.  Stewart is his adorable companion with flashing smile and…delectable, slender ankles.  Warren is the nemeses with a premise to demise the whole silly lot of us.  And Heuston is the ultimate in naughty girls and has a couple of secret weapons in her arsenal that, when pointed out to you, could cause explosions in some of us.

But, as good as they are, the most versatile is yet to come.  Ross, playing the Aunt and many other guises, is adoringly funny, capturing both the essence and inanity of varying good and bad guys/gals.  And Harris has a treasure trove of secret disguises, from muttering uncles, to a soldier with some imitative comrades, to a wily Arab, a drinking buddy, et. al.  He is a master of comedy and it is all exposed here.  All in all, a fun experience, well worth your time!

I recommend this show.  If you do see it, please tell them Dennis sent you.