BWW Review: INGA BINGA Sneaking into the Mainstream
Traveling back to 1942, with the world at war and every man and woman yearning to get into the fray, INGA BINGA highlights the J Edgar Hoover era of espionage. Frank Benge reliably directs this devious comedy in its regional debut, showcasing the original play by Julian Wiles. Taking place in an art-deco hotel in Charleston, South Carolina, we find Ensign Jack Kennedy (played by Justin West), planning a romantic and secretive weekend with the rumored Nazi supporter, Inga Arvad (played by Courtney Abud). In true Hoover fashion, the file on this affair is opened with Special Agent-in-Charge (played by Gene Storie) and Skip (played by Michael Rodriguez) an overzealous 'virgin agent' trying to make a name for himself at the Bureau. After bugging the entire room, and then hiding behind a swinging wall, complete with one-way mirror, the G Men set the historical stage for romance, intrigue, and full-frontal farce.
Each character brings a different ingredient to this wild and true slice of American History. With stereotypically classic conflicts, characters like the Special agent duo (Storie and Rodriguez) and the journalists (Betty - played by Sara DeSoto) and Red (played by Seth Bestwick), portrays a stark contrast between controlling and stern, and frazzled and naive. Each persona is written with it's opposite to keep the show entertaining and the plot evolving. This is highlighted between best friends, Jack Kennedy (West) and partner in crime, Lemoyne "Lem" Billings (played by Tim Olivares). Jack's fantasies of running away with Inga (Abud) are quickly jerked back to reality with "Lem" reminding him of his powerful family's position and the likelihood of this romance working in such a strenuous war-time environment. Another fresh and frazzled face, comes in the form of the very excitable, Charleston-loving bellhop, Bud (played by Logan Vohs). He sprinkles enough earnest enthusiasm, that the audience can relate to and he provides a solid comic relief from some of the more dramatic spots. Lastly, Inga (Abud) adds some spice to the mostly male cast through the more racy shower and love scenes, prancing about in lace lingerie, showing Jack who is really in charge. With her innocence continuously in question, her lengthy justifications make it difficult for the audience to root for her character. With more unexpected guests to come, including an comical appearance by a special hotel employee, this tapestry of spies, feds, and lovers quickly unravels in a farce.
Rooted in real American history, The Freedom of Information Act, essentially outed Kennedy for his steamy affair with the rumored Nazi Spy decades after the real-life events took place. Julian Wiles, introduced us to this world of intrigue and and familiarity and Frank Benge brings this work to life in Austin. Who doesn't love a lusty affair with famous faces? A humorous and thought-provoking piece, this show is intriguing for adults and great for history/noir fans.
Show run: February 12th - March 5th
Want to see this show? Visit sambasstheatre.org for more details!