note: entire contents copyright 2004 by Beverly Creasey
The New Repertory Theatre’s raucous SCAPIN, the musical, follows the basic plot of the Moliere farce—and more importantly, it honors the spirit of Moliere’s satires, skewering the hypocrisy of government and the clergy.* Haddon Kime’s delightful music is a madcap mix of tongue-in-cheek Broadway musical, rap, calypso, country western and rock ‘n roll. Rick Lombardo’s book aims squarely for Pres. Bush and his ilk. “I don’t do nuance,” says one Texas fat cat. “Just boil it down to a bumper sticker for me.” So for Steven Barkhimer’s Argante, I did. You can put “ESCAPIN REALITY @ NEW REP right on your custom fitted pick-up with the shiny chrome bumper.
John Kuntz is adorable as the unprincipled imp who plots to relieve his master and another old fogey of their money. His real revenge, though, on the upper middle classes, is making cruel sport of the pompous rancher (with truncheons delivered by none other than SpeakEasy’s batboy! Does the OBSERVER know about the New Rep sighting? I thought he was in Iraq.)
Miguel Cervantes here portrays the dashing, swashbuckling son of the aforementioned fogey, hopelessly in love with an impoverished gypsy girl. What an entrance Cervantes makes in mid air. Move over Johnny Depp!
Steven Barkhimer and Ken Baltin are hilarious as the Texas millionaires Scapin makes his goats (As in SCAP-goats. Sorry. Sorry.) More riotous business from Bret Carr as the other son in love with the wrong/right girl (a daffy performance from Jennifer Lafleur) and from Bonita J. Hamilton as the fiery gypsy diva with the Tina Turner “What’s Love Got To Do With It” thing goin’ on.
Act II flags a bit but just when I was about to think that things were getting boring, John Kuntz pops up from his snooze and puts a stop to the slowdown. It’s a shame Matthew J Nichols can’t deliver more messages, he’s so wonderfully maniacal announcing his bad news astride a tiny tricycle.
My favorite character, it turns out, is the clown with the Tommy Smothers’ naivete. Bates Wilder for President! As for death scenes, the only thing funnier than Kuntz flopping about like a flounder is Wilder channeling every goodbye ever played on a stage. You had to be there. You should be there. You’ve got to see it for yourself. Republicans: Be warned. This is not a show for the faint of heart. This heart is bleeding for us liberals. Power to the people. Left on.
* Moliere often ran afoul of the church (with scathing comedies like TARTUFFE) so much so that priests refused him last rites as he lay dying (on stage in THE IMAGINARY INVALID-what a way to go!)