17 - November 7
Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 Sundays at 7:00
written & directed
by DENNIS GERSTEN
based on the writing of Henry Fielding
10943 Camarillo Street, North Hollywood, CA.
For information, call 818-205-1680
In 1730, playwright-novelist Henry Fielding satirized the pretensions of Restoration tragedy with a loony burlesque called The Tragedy of Tragedies; or, The Life and Death of Tom Thumb the Great. Writer-director Dennis Gersten adds a fanciful life of the author, here called Mr. Luckless (Christopher Le Crenn), to Fieldings comedy. Luckless must fleece his landlady (Carol Sigurdson) to produce his play, which we then see performed in splendid mock-heroic style. Blake Walker is a handsome, stalwart-but-tiny Tom (acting on his knees), while the giantess Glumdalca (Noel Evangelisti), who falls in love with him after he has conquered her kingdom, towers above him on buskins. Queen Dollallolla (Elizabeth Wells) and Princess Huncamunca (Lyndie Renee) are also fatally attracted to the minihero, while villainous Grizzle (Jon Mullich) lusts after Huncamunca. Steve Peterson is a foppish King Arthur, while Elaine Capogeannis, Andrew Graves, Mullich, Le Crenn and James Kevin Ward shine in multiple roles. The play has everything from ghosts to carnivorous cows, Merlin the Magician and more murders than Hamlet. The language is madly baroque, while music and dance add to the hijinks. Composer William A. Reilly treats us to everything from jigs to jitterbugs, Dean Cameron provides a superb, painterly set, and a large creative team makes this a stylish gem.
Luscious, period-perfect costuming by Don Nelson adorns the court of King Arthur (the deliciously foppish Steve Peterson) and Queen Dollallolla (a no-nonsense Elizabeth Wells). Their daughter, Princess Huncamunca, portrayed in a Valley-girlish turn by Lyndie Renee, is promised to the mighty soldier, Tom Thumb. As our diminutive hero, the incredibly nimble Blake Walker performs nearly the entire show on his knees. Wedded bliss is nearly stymied, however, when Jon Mullich enters the picture as Thumb's villainous counterpart, Lord Grizzle. Along with Mullich's gleefully scenery-chewing performance, James Kevin Ward is a highlight, appearing as our favorite sorcerer, Merlin, and Gonsalvo, the human embodiment of a deus ex machina, who wraps up the proceedings. Likewise the tremendously versatile Andrew Graves pulls off a half-dozen hilarious characterizations, including an Irish-brogued Parson, a self-important Ghost, and Mustacha, certainly the ugliest female courtesan imaginable. As for sheer sight gag points, Noel Evangelisti wins hands down as the platform-shoed giantess queen, Glumdalca.
Author's Thumb" is a play that promises a night of satiric humor, a man
who walks on his knees, and Huncamunca love. Not sure why a man would walk
on his knees? Wondering just what Huncamunca means? Then perhaps you can understand
how wonderfully strange, superbly entertaining, and absolutely hilarious this
play is. Blake Walker does a marvelous job playing Tom Thumb, although he
is certainly not thumb-sized. No, Blake meanders his way around the stage
on his knees, which sport little brown boots. When Tom needs to sword-fight
or run, Blake occasionally stands up and walks for a moment, giving the audience
a look that clearly says, "This is a lot faster." The audience's
cackles and roars prove that this silly humor makes the play.