The beast must be fed. That’s the chief thing on the Lowbrow’s mind at any given moment since the festival began. And by beast, I don’t mean hogzilla. I’m talking about this hairy monster, the Spoleto Buzz blog. Eight shows in, Faustus staring me in the face in less than 30 minutes, and I’m ready to make my own deal with the devil. I’d almost sell my soul for a few extra hours to compose my thoughts on all the things there are to say about the two festivals so far, some of them possibly even articulate. I haven’t had a chance to mention the premiere of L’ile de Merlin last night, nor the hour following it at Theatre 99’s Improv Smackdown – both joints stuffed to the rafters with people who were laughing their heads off.
At the Dock Street, buddy humor reigned, with baritones Eugene Brancoveanu and Keith Phares (a vet of both Don Giovannis here) doing their best impressions of Keanu Reeves and whatever that other guy’s name was in Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. The two brainless buffoons, having washed up ashore Merlin’s magic island – though oddly confined to a white room whose only exit/entrance is a locked revolving door behind a water cooler – slackjaw their way through a mix of spoken and sung dialogue, all of which had the audience giggling throughout, though I did hear a few purists griping about the “shtick” overwhelming the music.
Dressed in hoodies and ripped jeans, the two mined Gluck’s 18th-century comic opera for lots of laughs, playing the roles of freeloading frat types to the teeth. Not many past Spoleto operas have featured jumping chest butts, fist bumps, Superman underwear, and arias sung through an electric bullhorn. The supertitle translators seem to have taken as much license with Gluck’s original French libretto as director Christopher Alden did with the staging. A few examples:
“Food makes me horny. I’d like one about 15 or so, with huge [long pause for laughs] eyes.”
“Dude! These must be the chicks we asked for!”
“You’re hotter than Helen of Troy!”
“Dude! That was one badass philosopher!”
All in all, it was pretty rightous.