“Oedipus for Kids” – Nearly Naked Theatre

This review aired on KBAQ August 22, 2011


Nearly Naked Theatre
Phoenix, AZ

“Oedipus for Kids” is, of course, an oxymoron.  The epic story dramatized by Sophocles that everyone studies in high school is packed with adult themes loaded with sexual implications.  That Oedipus would kill his father and marry his mother is certainly not something for children.

So the musical’s writers, Gil Varod, Robert J. Safestein, and Kimberly Patterson, want laughter at turning this tale into a children’s show by the ragtag troupe Fuzzy Duck Theatre Company.  And laughing uproariously is exactly what you’ll do with Nearly Naked Theatre’s hilarious production that marks the show’s Arizona premiere.

The writers keep their tongues firmly in their cheeks in their hysterical adaptation that goes predictably awry.  The story is washed in blatant sexuality and it creeps vociferously into this silly adaptation with reckless abandon.  That Fuzzy Duck Theatre is supported by a generous coffee maker’s grant tells you a lot about this theater and the backstage quarrels, quibbles, and general shenanigans of the three person company adds further comic dimension to the show.  Hypocrisy is this theater’s modus operandi.  To divulge specific adaptation details would spoil the wild fun and stage frenzy.  As silly as the show is, though, it never becomes tiresome or trite.  The music is nothing you’ll hum leaving the theater but the song lyrics keep the laughs zinging.

The production, cleverly staged at a brisk tempo by Toby Yatso, is filled with rollicking comic invention so it plays with hilarious malarkey.  Yatso’s superlative cast brings off the nonsense beautifully.  Chad McCluskey as actor Evan proves himself an adept farceur playing the essentially straight role of Oedipus as the character blunders around using dryly deadpan delivery that brings wails of laughter from every silly thing Oedipus does.  As Catalina, the wonderful Johanna Carlisle essays three roles including Jocasta, Oedipus’ mother, as she uses her flippant comic sense and funny facial expressions to witty abandon while her overly dramatic singing makes her songs spark with hilarity.  Carlisle has the most fun with the backstage carryings on including her feud with her soon to be former husband, Alistair, played with pompous hysteria by Doug Loynd who essays multiple roles including Tedipus, Oedipus’ maliciously crafty brother.

To be sure, “Oedipus for Kids” is filled with very adult humor.  While the show might offend some, most theatergoers will be in stitches with this wacky musical that continues through September 10.  For tickets, call the Phoenix Theatre box office at 602-254-2151.

Grade: A