Single White Fringe Geek - Tamburlaine - Sheep Theater - When You Like Your Politics Brutally Funny...
Add Sheep Theater (the cheeky brainchild of Joey Hamburger, Iris Rose Page, and Michael Hugh Torsch) to the list of young theater companies I want to follow very closely over the coming years. If the energy and creativity behind Tamburlaine is any indication, Sheep Theater is liable to take off like a rocket.
“I like to paint,” said Joey Hamburger, sitting at the Spyhouse on Nicollet on Tuesday night. “Every time I paint it starts with a sheep, so I have a lot of paintings of sheep.”
It’s comedy the way I like it, smart as well as funny. You can just coast along on the jokes and ridiculous situations, or you can ponder a bit, depending on your mood. But you won’t feel dumb or disrespected when it’s over. (Plus, as an added bonus, there’s a surf rock version of Hava Nagila.) Deus Ex Machina is a win all the way around in that regard. (There’s a joke about believing in the power of theater again to deal honestly with religion, but I think I’ll let that pass as well. You don’t need puns from me, you need to go see Hamburger’s comedy instead.)
Well, of course. We've all seen the story before. What creators Joey Hamburger and Michael Hugh Torsch have done is ramp up the absurdity to the breaking point. Hamburber's Rainsford is more than just a vain hunter, he's a very stupid one as well. Tosch's Zaroff takes his barking madness to the extreme. It's up to Iris Page as Eve to provide some sanity.
I just loved it. This is exactly the sort of thing I hope to find in a small, low-budget production: a smart script, the right casting and a clear idea of what the show is all about.
It's the hilarity that really sells this show. It's hard to put something on after it's been spoofed so much that it's practically a running gag in our collective consciousness. Playing it straight isn't likely to resonate much, and even lampshading it can come off as tired and unoriginal. (See above, re: Gilligan's Island.) The new version running at the Bedlam right now isn't tired, though. Instead, it's one of those rare 'Galaxy Quest' style parodies - an affectionate deconstruction - that doesn't abandon its reverence for the source.