Watch the skies! Invaders from another world have been sighted in the Sunshine State. Spaceship landings, missing people, alien inseminators, and anal probes have all been reported in the unsuspecting town of Lizard Lick, Fla.
The ETs are easy to spot. Just look for their flying saucer dangling from a line as it wobbles across the Footlight Players’ stage.
This year, the community theater presents the South Carolina premiere of Devil Boys from Beyond, a hit sci-fi spoof by Buddy Thomas (The Crumple Zone) and Kenneth Elliott. It’s quite a coup for the theater because the play is so new. In fact, when director David Moon of Footlight inquired about the rights, it hadn’t even been published yet.
Devil Boys debuted last year at the New York International Fringe Festival, where audiences had their sides split worse than John Hurt in Alien. If they didn’t get the lampooning references to ’50s B-movies, they appreciated the female characters played by men in drag.
Moon started the casting process early, partly because he was worried he’d have trouble finding actors to play the women’s roles. “I have five men playing them,” he says. “The surprising thing was, both nights every guy said they were interested in playing either a man or a woman. After two nights, I had a terrific cast. It came together so easily, I was thrilled.”
Apart from his actors, Moon had to decide on a script. He had two to choose from — the original and a second version that Elliot helped retool. He chose the latter. “That one is for a more contemporary audience,” Moon explains.
Also ideal: the minimal scenic elements, since Moon’s resources are limited. Like a zero-budget 1950s film, a model airplane on a string suggests an aircraft in flight and a row of chairs make up the interior. The campy dialogue makes up for the lack of visuals.
“It appeals to me because it reminded me of the work of Charles Ludlum and Charles Busch, like Psycho Beach Party and those great campy comedies, send-ups of a particular genre.” This time, movies like Plan 9 from Outer Space and Invasion of the Bodysnatchers are ripe for spoofing.
“People are still familiar with that genre,” Moon says, “thanks to Tim Burton’s Ed Wood and other fairly recent parodies. It’s not alien to today’s audiences.” That’s an unintentional pun, but one that wouldn’t be out of place in a play that includes sex-starved middle-aged ladies, comments on marital equality, and a swipe or two at the dwindling print media.
Admittedly, the show isn’t for everyone. “Some of the language is a little strong,” says Moon. “Although I think audiences during the festival are more receptive than the rest of the year, more open-minded.” How bad can the language be? Moon replies, “Some of the cast thought their parents might not approve.”
The local participants include David Graham, who plays Florence, a little Southern woman with a big secret; Fred Hutter is Gilbert, a hard-as-nails New York newspaper editor; Steven Moskos is Gregory, a frazzled photographer and inveterate drinker. The cast also includes Ryan Masson and Jimmy Flannery as female reporters, Jeff Craver as Dotty the Motor Lodge owner, Tyler Hill as Florence’s husband, and Justin Avery as the sheriff of Lizard Lick. Clint Edens will take notes as Velma the secretary.
Sci-fi buff or not, there will probably be something in this play to tickle your funny bone. Thousands of people have already been hooked by the banter and outrageous performances that Devil Boys calls for.