Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Welcome...To Jurassic Park!

Raptors in the vents!

Last night, Baltimore comedy troupe Wham City performed their theatrical interpretation of Jurassic Park (supertitled Shoot Her! here in New York, but apparently called the more appropriate They Should All Be Destroyed elsewhere on their Eastern Seaboard tour). The show took place at The Market Hotel, a loft space in Bushwick, before a packed audience of over a hundred nerds, hipsters, and nerd-hipsters, most of whom were seated cross legged on the floor in front of the stage area, giving the proceedings the informal feel of a summer camp production (nerd-hipsters love pretending to be children). In a recent article in the Baltimore Sun, the production's director insisted Shoot Her was not a parody of Spielberg's masterpiece, but a homage. After seeing it, I'd say it's about equal parts of both. Notes on the show and more pictures* after the jump...

*All pictures are from ThePirateHat's Flickr page and the Baltimore Sun - both sites have more than what's available here, so check 'em out.

The play condensed the movie by focusing on about 15 key scenes, and cutting everything else. Gone is the opening scene where they actually say "Shoot her!" as well as the scene in which Dr. Grant threatens to disembowel a small child. That second one may have been removed because it's already funny and absurd, and much of the play's humor comes from infusing the film's most intense and serious scenes with manic energy and new pedantic, overstated dialouge. Also sex jokes. The stand-out performance was Ed Schrader's interpretation of John Hammond as an aggressively insane old coot, alternately muttering and roaring in the grand tradition of mad scientists, at one point bellowing out, "I flew too close to the sun, and I'm burning alive!".*

Of course the real draw is seeing how the scenes from the movie translate to a low-budget DIY aesthetic, and there were some real triumphs on this front. The "Mister DNA" multimedia presentation was one of the most faithfully recreated sequences, with all of the "on-screen" action taking place within a white rectangle of piping representing a movie screen. As you can see from the still, the Mr. DNA puppet was spot on. Another achievement in screen-to-stage fluidity was the scene where Grant and the kids climb over a de-electrified fence, which somehow managed to be almost as unironically nerve-wracking as the actual movie.

Robby Rackleff gave an impressive performance as the only human villain of Jurassic Park, Denis Nedry, and was able to elevate the character to an almost Richard III level of grostequery and evil. The play's opening image is Nedry stuffing his face with an unidentifiable blue mass of food, just before he bellows the opening line of the night; "GLUTTONY PERSONIFIED!", before launching into the infamous "We've got Dodgson here!" scene.

The dinosaurs were achieved in two ways; colorful jumpsuits and paper-mache heads, with impressively functional jaws. Above is the show's Dilophosaurus, or "Spitter", if you want to be crude about it. Adooorable!

The Raptors In The Kitchen scene (the film's absolute height of teeth-gritting suspense) was staged by having the raptors chase Tim through the audience, to excellent effect. As you can see from this shot, the audience is just about 100% white, which I found kind of surprising this being New York and all, where most hipster/nerd events have at least a minor contingent of racial minorities. I watched people coming through the door for a good eight minutes, scanned the crowd and counted heads, and I didn't see one black or asian person all night (I'll admit I may have missed some biracials and latinos, because even though I am those they can be hard to make out in the dark). What gives, doesn't everyone love Jurassic Park? I mean the movie's cast is completely white (with the exception of Samuel L. Jackson and a cameo by B.D Wong), but still....dinosaurs!

Kind of an obscured shot here, but this is the climactic ending sequence when T-Rex saves the day...that's the evil raptor there in blue, about to get eated.

The show was bookended by performances of John Williams' stirring theme music, accompanied by the cast singing the following lyrics, helpfully transcribed on the back of the program. I'd say download the score and try singing along at home, but even the cast seemed a bit thwarted by the meter of the lyrics.

*Apparently this is Ed's catch phrase, because he also says it here on his talk show, at 3:00 minutes in.

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