“Fifty Shades of Felt” – Nearly Naked Theatre/All Puppet Players

This review aired on KBAQ November 21, 2013


Nearly Naked Theatre/All Puppet Players, The Little Theatre at Phoenix Theatre
Phoenix, AZ

Before I start my review of “Fifty Shades of Felt,” some warnings.  This is a sexually explicit show like nothing that has ever been seen here before.  And it isn’t nudity that makes it explicit because the show is performed by puppets.  It’s the sexual chatter that makes it so graphic.  It’s presented by Nearly Naked Theatre but this is raunchy even for this bold company.

“Fifty Shades of Felt” lampoons the popular book “Fifty Shades of Grey.”  With puppets playing the characters, the show turns the book into an off-color sexual spoof, the brainchild of All Puppet Players artistic director Shaun Michael McNamara.  Since the world premiere show is in keeping with Nearly Naked Theatre’s artistic director Damon Dering’s approach to theater, he included it on his season.  Dering actually apologizes to the audience in a pre-curtain speech in which he seems embarrassed by the show’s flamboyant sexuality.  “Fifty Shades of Felt” is an unrivaled sexually overt evening of theater the likes of which have never been seen here let alone in theater capitals like New York City.

Does the dirty chatter and brazen actions of the puppets work?  Not completely even though my sexual knowledge was enhanced by the puppets’ carryings-on.  And this is obviously a show children should never see.

If you are embarrassed by blatant sexual talk or are easily offended by bizarre sexual proclivities, stay away from “Fifty Shades of Felt.”  But even for those not easily offended, “Fifty Shades of Felt” seems long and the unusually honest sexual innuendo would shame many detailed sex manuals.

What you get in “Fifty Shades of Felt” is a cast of puppets who use foul mouthed lyrics and nefarious sexual situations to portray every unusual sex practice.  And be careful not to let some uncomfortable audience participation surprise you.  After a couple of characters in the show asked the audience to explain some bizarre sexual activities, I was asked to read a provided definition of a sexual practice I’d never heard of.  To say that this moment was embarrassing is extreme understatement.

The show focuses on Anastasia and Christian.  Christian teaches innocent Anastasia several unique sexual activities causing her to become sexually brazen as the other characters help the two central characters expand their sexual awareness.

Don’t go to “Fifty Shades of Felt” if you are looking for conventional theater or even if you enjoy comic mockery.  You have to be receptive to bizarre sex practices.  It was too much for me.  It continues through November 30.  For tickets, call the Phoenix Theatre box office at 602-254-2151 or order tickets online at www.nearlynakedtheatre.org.

Grade: C