Somewhere along the way, Landless became the “South Park” of the DC theatre network. Their shows are practically made of construction paper, and each one is pumped full of cute, filthy-minded satire and sing-along idiocy. Once again, that impish spirit proves an asset, especially when the story’s main characters are as juvenile as the writers’ sense of humor. This summer, the gang has their sights set on skewering Twilight and the Harry Potter series, as well as anything and everything else hapless enough to wander across our pop culture field of vision.
Stephanie Meyers’s Twilight books are so bad – their parody so pre-packaged – that trying to land a punch is like that scene in “Enter The Dragon” when Bruce Lee has to fight Han in the hall of mirrors. You can never be sure if you’re striking at the thing itself or just a reflection. In truth, I’m not sure the Twilight books really ever existed in the first place.
Maybe that’s why the references are so fleeting in Carrie Potter at the New Moon Prom. Early on, Carrie Potter (Nora Palka) glimpses the vampire Eduardo (Jedd Breckenridge) at the train station with his collar turned up. They share a super emo moment, and off he runs. Too bad, since Breckenridge does such a bang-up job at capturing that high school hot boy smolder. Luckily, like everyone else, he shows up again in a different costume later. We call that theatre magic.
At school, Carrie’s having a rough semester. After an embarrassing incident in the girls’ shower, everyone’s making fun of her. Hot boy Lucien Foulboy (Breckenridge again, in a wig) won’t give her the time of day. She’s got a fatuous little ghost named Plucky (Cyle Durkee, with a funny hat and a speech impediment) following her around. Her mannish friend Rhonda (Clay Comer, in a wig) speaks in a husky baritone that gets lower and lower as the full moon approaches. Her uptight mother (Lucrezia Blozia, in a wig) punishes her for her truancy with a barrel of sadistic spells (don’t remember that part from the book…) and Miles Shnape (Durkee again, in a wig) thinks that Carrie’s the one destined to fight some forces of darkness somewhere. Luckily, she’s got Jesus Christ (yes) to walk her through musical scene changes with a wink, a grin, and… a wig.
Good luck getting a critical word in edgewise. You’ll probably just get a shove in the shoulder, you party pooper. Sure, a couple of the songs are clunkers, and there could have been – dare I say it? – more of a plot to help tie the comedy together. As it stands, the dramatic climax isn’t so much a product of converging storyline as it is a ramped-up willingness to throw everything into the blender. And, I’m sorry… but couldn’t there be a little more… magic?
Never mind. Any point is beside the point. This dark, scrappy little musical is supersaturated with silliness. The pre-recorded cheapo drum-kit soundtrack imparts a karaoke feel. Every scene reels with vaudeville zeal and spastic melodrama. Every realization is larger than life; characters jolt out of their chairs, whirl around in surprise, and do double-takes when something doesn’t make sense (and, often, nothing does). It’s just tongue-in-cheek enough to hit all the laughs but to presume none of them. This is rigorous work, people… running around in high heels and fencing with light sabers doesn’t come easily.
The macabre ending is only fitting, given our heroine’s first name. Good thing Stephen King’s not here to cry copyright foul. But maybe it was never an issue. The play, like best friend Rhonda and her overactive thyroid, quickly grows into a different beast entirely. The cast howls at the moon. And we howl too.
Carrie Potter at the New Moon Prom
Written by Jen Tonon and Andrew Lloyd Baughman
Directed by Melissa Baughman
Produced by Landless Theatre Co.
Reviewed by Hunter Styles
Running time: 70 minutes
Read all the reviews and check out the full Capital Fringe schedule here.
Did you see the show? What did you think?