ADVERTISING AT CURTAINUP
Short Term Listings
BOOKS and CDs
LETTERS TO EDITOR
A CurtainUp Los Angeles Review
You would perhaps expect nothing less than a full scale adolescent &mdash if erudite &mdash gross-out when you go about sicing the comedy trio Culture Clash on Peace the hugely filthy play by Aristophanes. In fact, given the hay that the Troubadour Theater Company is concurrently making with Sophocles' Oedipus, the King Mama! over the hill in Burbank, clearly no wearer of a toga is safe.
Adapted by John Glore with Culture Clash's Richard Montoya, Ric Salinas and Herbert Siguenza, Peace may not be entirely an exercise in who can out smut whom (although it sometimes feels that way). There are some timely thoughts on war, violence and those who wage it peeking through the mire. And bless their mischievous souls, Culture Clash (Chavez Ravine, Zorro in Hellhas been pecking away at the funny bones of irreverence-seeking audiences for coming up on 20 years.
With Peace, the boys are jumping in and out of costumes and characters (ancient, contemporary and anything in between) as supporting players, leaving the play's actual quest to another wild card: John Fleck. Fleck's Trygaeus (known as Ty Dye and costumed to match) is a pot- growing, phallus-waving farmer who ascends skyward on a dung beetle looking to free the goddess Peace from imprisonment. Ares, the God of War, Peace's jailer, will naturally have something to say about that. And Ty Dy may need some help from a Malibu housewife (Amy Hill) plucked from the audience to be the Chorus Leader. The Mariachi trio, Las Colibri, led by Suzanne Garcia, helps ramp up the party atmosphere. and somehow manages to avoid getting scatalogically smacked.
Fleck has played much more demented than this, although given Ty Dye's encounters with a Michael Jackson wannabe son and the fey god Hermes ("all phalluses must go through me") Fleck is not exactly going subtle. His cast members certainly aren't. Montoya's demonic Ares, with oversized bloodied hands, a general's tunic and an ancient war helmet makes for a satiric villain (very imaginative costumes by Shgeru Yaji).
This marks the fourth annual outdoor staging of an adapted classic at the Getty Villa's , and the second comedy. Set designer Christopher Acebo, lighting designer Geoff Korf and puppet designer Lynn Jeffries make fine use of both the playing space and the back wall of the gallery itself. The players actually have to raid the museum &mdash strewing boulders in their wake &mdash to liberate Peace.
For Peace, Bill Rauch returns to L.A. to direct a freelance gig for the first time since taking over artistic directorship at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. This kind of broad and bawdy satire is very much in line (if somewhat more over-the-top) than what Rauch's productions for the Cornerstone Theater Company would do. That the director has brought longtime Cornerstoners Acebo, Yaji, Korf, Jeffries is hardly surprising, and the Clash will have a new play at OSF in 2010.
Underneath the mayhem, as I've said, is a rumination on war. It is driven home by an unlikely &mdash and, one hopes, a not easily traumatized &mdash source. So, as the song goes, give Peace a chance, but don't bring your own seat cushions. In the true spirit of farce, the Getty Villa staff will confiscate said cushions "for security reasons."