Well scatologically inclined puppets, cheap theatrics, and really bent sexuality – now that sounds like a prime evening in the theatre to me. J. Michael Feldman’s “Fairy Tale Theatre 18 +” at the Matrix Theatre takes his inspiration from Aesop, La Fontaine and Jim Henson, except here Larry Flynt and Dan Savage have ghost written the fables and the Muppets are all on meth.
The moral instruction begins from the moment you enter the theatre to find the walls strewn with edifying dictums: “Don’t masturbate during the day, it means you’re a loser and have no job.” “Don’t hook up with someone who’s out of your league, you won’t feel good about yourself in the end.”
Once in the theater, a deceptively Disney-esque set lulls you into the same mindset Custer probably had before he rode over the crest at Greasy Grass.
Out comes our droll, moonstruck, but ever so “fabulous” fabulist Percy Rutherford (J. Michael Feldman) who informs us that this evening of fairytales will be geared to teaching invaluable lessons to adults such as “If your mother’s not your biological mother she’s probably a sadistic bitch,” and will attempt to answer life’s pressing questions like “Am I too old to buy Ikea furniture?”
What follows is a raucous, madcap eighty-minute evening of very naughty allegories and rather psychotic parables, like “The Squirrel and the Squirrel”, “The Bi-Polar Bear and the Co-Dependent Eskimo”, “The Bee Who Didn’t Want to Hurt Anybody”, “Kurt the Spider”, “The Centipede Who Had to Make it There in One Day”, “The Monkeys and their Pets”, concluding with a squalling sockdolager of a finale in “The Cloud who was into Weird Shit”.
We are treated to characters from assorted phyla of the animal kingdom: gay termites (nicely played by Jess McKay and Matt Cook), amorous spiders (Feldman and the soooo precious Tina Huang), in addition to cumulonimbus clouds that are into “moisture sports” during sex (Feldman again and the delightful Courtney Pauroso who could rain on my parade any time she wanted), as well as a talking glacier, blood puking hound, and a grasshopper possessed of a legendary “gay radar”.
The cast (which also includes Eileen Mulanee, Corey Podell and Kimrie Lewis-Davis) is uniformly young as I imagine Annie McVey the director is as well, so the show suffers from some looseness in staging. J. Michael Feldman, the writer, displays a flavorsome sense of the absurd and a wit sharp enough that hemophiliacs best avoid sharing a time zone with him. Feldman takes center stage in most of the sketches and accounts himself admirably, but is at his weakness in the persona of the show’s tale-teller Percy Rutherford, where it seems the effort at creating a distinct character ended at the choice of a silly name.
However this flaw is soon lost in the overall harum-scarum silliness of the evening. And don’t be confused by the “Fairy Tale” and “puppet” business, I wouldn’t suggest bringing children to this one unless while you watch the show you plan on locking them in the car trunk.
Fairy Tale Theatre 18 +
The Matrix Theatre
7657 Melrose Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90046
January 19 – February 11
Thursday thru Saturday at 8 p.m.