Godzilla is a product of pop culture; some say the birth of pop culture. Unfortunately or fortunately depending on your point of view, he has never become a part of my sphere of knowledge. Sure I laughed at the movie clips along with my friends and I even found the whole sci-fi scene rather (How I hate this term) cool. That said, I climbed the stairs at the DCAC to take in Landless Theatre’s US premier of Godzilla, wondering to myself if I would find it enjoyable.
To start off there is much to like about this show and a little to dislike. The Landless troupe are full of positive energy and show a tremendous desire to bring a new face to the DC Theatre Community. I was impressed with the idea of hawking the show to passersby on 18th Street which is a premier strip of entertainment real estate. I thought the “game show” lead-in to Godzilla was brilliant. The storyline of the play is brilliant as well — to have a young lady fall in love with Godzilla speaks to our desire as humans to aspire to a higher goal, one of looking at everyone as an equal and worthy of our respect.
Every actor in this show beams with the same energy, from Godzilla (Andrew Baughman) to Godzilla’s sister in-laws to be (Aly Jenkins, Erin Kaufman), everyone seems to be having a great time. Andrew Baughman’s lizard leaps and Matt Baughman’s worm like wiggles and hops were extremely hilarious. Alex Zavistovich as Hoyoto has quite a few comic lines and it is a pleasure to see him in the city now, applying his craft. Kate Hundley plays the star struck young lady who falls in love with our hero (Godzilla) and she is able to pull off being the ever trusting true romantic.
OK, you know it was coming, so I will get to the show’s weaker points. Godzilla heavily depends on the audience being fans of the big guy and his genre. If you experience this production without any prior knowledge of Godzilla or his friends you render much of the comedy ineffective. The show starts out briskly but by the end it was dragging for me. I say for me because most of the humor in the final minutes of the play relies on your knowledge of Goldzilla lore. There are still quite a few laughs to be had though and I think the production stands on the bold energies of the producing company.
In short if Godzilla was or is a favorite of yours, the Landless Theatre production of Godzilla will surely tickle more than just your funny bone. If not? You will still be entertained by an energetic group of talented artists that go by the name of Landless Theatre.
Godzilla by Yasuhiko Ohashi. Directed by Melissa Baughman. Set: Diana Wright; costumes: Elizabeth Reeves; lights: Peter Vargo; sound design: Asha Srinivasan. With Momo Nakamura, Robert Lavery, Jill Vanderweit, Erin Kaufman and Ally Jenkins. Through May 7, 2006 at the District of Columbia Arts Center, 2438 18th St. NW.