Oedipus the King, Mama! September 3, 2009
By Glen Creason
On the road in search of entertainment I found myself at the Falcon Theater in Burbank, invited by friends to take in the latest production of the comedy group, the Troubies called “Oedipus the King, Mama!” Not since Mel Brooks made Hitler a rib tickling comedy has such a dark subject matter been the launching pad for so much mirth as this wildly crazy musical phantasmagore-ia. The Troubies have been doing similar send-ups for years but this was my first and it was more than amazing in the pace and comedy of what was sort of a plot based on the two-thousand thirty-eight year old second part of the trilogy of tragedy by Sophocles. What makes the production profoundly funny is the real adherence to the original story with dialogue and loose interpretations of the events of the original. This creates a framework for ribald songs and shenanigans that are so over the top they make you open your mouth in amazement before guffawing. Throw in some caffeinated, full-stage dance numbers, lots of topical humor (as up to date as the Health Care debate), Elvis inspired musical moments, broad physical comedy and you have a very enjoyable couple of hours at the theater.
The Troubies or Troubadour Theater Company puts fourteen comedians on stage and each one has plenty of time to shine while quite purposely stepping all over each other’s lines. It seems the jollity spread at the Falcon is not a very well kept secret as the place was packed with folks laughing to the wheezing point and the show repeats that five nights a week. While every single player is very good here the Troubies roller coaster of comedy is held in place by three steely lynch pins playing the key roles. Director/Narrator Matt Walker is amazing in his verbal and corporeal dexterity certainly drawing comparisons to the emcee in the musical Cabaret but with bleeding eyes this time. Rick Batalla as Creon actually takes on three roles in one and knocks them dead in triplicate. He is one part dupe, one part schemer and one part a hyphenated curse word that can never appear in a family newspaper. Lastly Beth Kennedy as lusty Mama Jocasta with overflowing bosom and booming red-lipsticked mouth is perfectly delightful and disgusting all at once. The entire chorus really is fine but both Elvis’ (what is the plural of Elvis?) James Michael Lambert and James Snyder were excellent in voice and comedic timing. While the principals elevate the proceedings the ensemble productions, particularly the finale and the shoehorned tribute to Michael Jackson were sheer Euterpean exhilaration. While this is a small theater production there are people up on the stage that are more than equal to any comedic players seen on network television, especially on Saturday night and you can tell your friends you saw them first at the Falcon Theater.