The Most Dangerous Game at Bedlam Theater

The holidays are over, the weather has turned friendlier and you’ve got a little cabin fever, right? I know just the cure. Get in the car (or grab the light rail, which stops right across the street) and head to St. Paul’s Lowertown and the new home of Bedlam Theater. You heard me. St. Paul. Lowertown. If you live in the ‘burbs or Minneapolis and don’t yet know where that is, it’s time you found it. Happily, this theater mainstay, uprooted from its Seven Corners home, has found a dandy replacement, complete with full bar, table seating, and menu that looked pretty, darned interesting. This may be a theater review, but ambience counts.

The show is “The Most Dangerous Game,” a clever, fast-paced sendup of the oh-so-familiar short story turned into a 1930’s-era film. A few simple set pieces, a handful of overly dramatic light cues, evocative costumes, some plastic shrubbery to toss about, and there you are! I just loved it. This is exactly the sort of thing I hope to find in a small, low-budget production: a smart script, the right casting and a clear idea of what the show is all about.

Joey Hamburger wrote and produced; Michael Hugh Torsch directed. They also played the leads, Sanger Rainsford and Count Zaroff, respectively. Rainsford, in this iteration, is a dull but good-looking hunter, more interested in girls than, well, just about anything. Zaroff struts around the stage – his manor on a remote island – with ridiculous swagger. The fact that he’s a good head shorter than Hamburger just shows they know how to manage casting for the best comic effect.

Iris Rose Page (Eve) is the love interest: slim, dark-haired with a chameleon-like, expressive face. Very pretty, but not in a distracting way. And she moves well, and always in character. I really liked her interpretation of the period’s helpless female stereotype, which made the denouement just that much more fun.

Jacob Mobley as Eve’s brother, Ivan timed his handful (so to speak …) of shark jokes to perfection. Brian Grossman could have been throw-away as the ship’s captain and later the Count’s servant, but he finessed both those little roles.

Currant Sommers provided acoustic sound cues and piano accompaniment. The bits which put the Count at the piano were good schtick; really good piano playing would have made this over-the-top funny. Other than that, nothing in the writer’s and director’s vision faltered. They knew exactly what was funny, how far to push it, and when to move on. Why are these two not teaching comedy writing at the Playwrights’ Center?

The show only runs through Saturday. Run-time is Fringe style at just 60 minutes.

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