“Saucy Jack and The Space Vixens” – Nearly Naked Theatre

This review aired on KBAQ August 16, 2010


Nearly Naked Theatre, The Little Theatre at Phoenix Theatre
Phoenix, AZ

Forget everything you’ve ever come to expect from a theater performance if you see Nearly Naked Theatre’s bizarrely wacky new musical, “Saucy Jack and The Space Vixens.” It’s like nothing you’ve ever seen that labels itself theater.

Nearly Naked’s artistic director Damon Dering has transformed the tiny Little Theatre at Phoenix Theatre into Saucy Jack’s cabaret. The regular tiered seats are gone and the remaining flat floor has a small stage with folding chairs and tables for audiences. As the cabaret, the weird story and unusual action plays out around the audience.

“Saucy Jack…” began in 1995 at the Edinburgh Festival for audiences who aren’t in to standard theater. The seedy cabaret is on planet Frottage III where disco music has developed a religious stature. Saucy Jack controls the shows and the various peculiar cabaret artists. Many deaths of these performers occur until a trio of Space Vixens arrives to solve the crimes. Radio language restrictions preclude mention of the characters names because they are sexually suggestive.

But as bizarre and tradition-breaking as this show is, don’t assume that “Saucy Jack…” is a marvelous romp. It grows tedious, trite, and repetitious as the three hour production plods on with a predictable plot and lots of mediocre disco songs with only a couple of standouts tunes. There’s lots of energy from the cast that works itself tirelessly dancing rather tame choreography through the songs and silliness. The show is long and self-indulgent.

“Saucy Jack…” starts with an endlessly draggy pre-show that introduces the unusual characters to get the audience set for its strange journey. The plot isn’t anything deep and is an excuse to display peculiar costumes and stage the clichéd disco songs. It’s no surprise that the murders get solved.

Given the roles and the show’s excesses, the cast gets down, dirty, and is groovy. There’s lots of audience participation expected so be warned. Ian Christiansen is a starkly dark Jack. Lisa Fogel shakes, rattles, and rolls as the Space Vixen leader and sings the show’s one stirring ballad, “Living in Hell,” with show-stopping panache. Eric Boudreau slides around as an oily saxophone player, and Joshua Sherrill is a hysterical female impersonator. Others have special moments and play the absurdities with comic flourish. Like many Nearly Naked shows, this one has raunchy language and nudity.

“Saucy Jack and The Space Vixens” isn’t for all theatergoers and, even for those willing to experience something weirdly bizarre, this one doesn’t pack the entertainment punch you’d expect. It continues through September 11. For tickets, call the Phoenix Theatre box office at 602-254-2151.

Grade: C