BWW Review: All Puppet Players Presents DIE HARD: A CHRISTMAS STORY
All Puppet Players, the creation of Shaun Michael McNamara and his wife, Kristin, has been carving out a niche as a self-described "nomadic theatre troupe that's sole purpose is to create irreverent, quirky, and innovated stage shows using puppetry to demolish the "typical" theatre experiences and add a bit of anarchy to every stage they perform on."
Now, that is definitely a puppet's mouthful of a mission statement. However, when translated into on-stage (and, for the time being, low-budget) action, the result is a series of irreverent, ribald, and goofy spoofs on popular films like Jaws, Jurassic Park, Alien, Top Gun, and Star Wars with equally suggestive sub-titles. (The company pridefully offers a stern warning that no one under 17 ~ no exceptions ~ will be permitted into the show.)
All of which leads me to a review of the first of this group's works that I've seen: DIE HARD: A CHRISTMAS STORY.
To overcome the great and interminable national debate as to whether or not DIE HARD (the first installment of the also-interminable Bruce Willis franchise) is truly a Christmas story, artistic director McNamara has weaved in cameos by Jesus and the Dickensian ghosts of Xmas past, present, and future to beguile the story's episodic hero, John McClane, and spiced up some holiday golden oldies with cleverly adapted and appropriately profane lyrics.
McNamara's versatility extends to his voicing ~ a humorous exercise in exaggerated umlauts ~ of the diabolical German terrorist, Hans Gruber, whose fearsome countenance (a la Alan Rickman) contrasts mightily with the unkempt and disheveled appearance of the relentless McClane (voiced by Devon Nickel).
Some of the more significant characters from the flick appear but in masks that are surreal and may have been secured from yard sales. (Like I said, low budget.) Zach Funk offered up a convincing Sgt. Al Powell, McClane's outside cop connection, and David Chorley epitomized Karl the psycho with a tommy gun.
The one character that I missed from this cavalcade was Argyle, McClane's limo driver, ensconced in the building's garage. But, you can't have it all, I guess. (Like I said, low budget.)
There's no contesting that the two-person puppeteers have their moves down pretty well and that the voices are adept at ad-libbing when necessary and messing with the audience.
However, the substance of the show is built on easy laughs and keg party humor which has its definite appeal for a certain audience.
All Puppet Players' production of DIE HARD runs through December 29th at Playhouse on the Park at Central Arts Plaza in Phoenix.
Photo credit to All Puppet Players