Play: “Adventurer’s Quest”
Group: NonProphet Theatre Company
Venue: Regional Arts Commission, 6128 Delmar Blvd.
Dates: June 4, 5, 6
Story: In the words of the news release description, “’Adventurer’s Quest’ by Richard Lovejoy is a 1980s-style, 16-bit video game come to life. The town of Perilton is invaded by the evil wizard, Evilicus, and only our Hero can save it! Cheer as he fights for the hand of the Mayor’s daughter! Gasp as he infiltrates the bloodthirsty Octopus cult! Watch as he meticulously collects inventory items! Shift uncomfortably in your seat as the narrative gradually implodes!”
Highlights: Reminiscent of a Magic Smoking Monkey Theatre production with its manic energy and chaotic structure, NonProphet’s 2010 season-opening presentation is filled with actors who pour their emotions and off-kilter humor into their parts.
Under the tutelage of director Robert A. Mitchell, their efforts are well-focused and genuine, and played out smartly before the clever artwork and graphic design by Jamie Melani Marshall that amusingly depicts various locales in the besieged kingdom of Perilton. The artwork is humorously integrated into the simple but effective set and lighting designed by Nick Uhlmansiek, and blends thematically with the comic ragtag costumes and props provided by Mitchell and Heather Tucker. Chris Chappel’s funky composition brings to mind the simple musical elements of early video games.
Other Info: Unfortunately, Lovejoy’s script can’t sustain its initial quirkiness and impish humor, ultimately degenerating into tedium liberally sauced with forced and scatological humor that merely underscores the playwright’s limited artistic scope. The one-act, 90-minute script would fare better at about half its current length, as the punch lines grow increasingly banal and wearisome.
Given the meager material, Mitchell’s cast manages to extract several moments of fun along the way, mostly in the first half of the presentation. There’s a clever piece at the beginning where Hero wanders into the village, where a number of residents repeat their movements in syncopated style, a la a video game, a thread that continues throughout the performance.
Nicole Angeli is a delight as a periodically animated merchant as well as a bored bureaucrat. Tom Lehmann tackles several parts in fine form, including a friendly beggar and various members of the Octopus cult. John Foughty is an inebriated resident as well as a lumbering ogre and the half-baked mayor and Joe Bayne is a nefarious “cemetery man” among other roles. Jonathan Ellison has fun in several parts, including an imperious cult guard, and Gwynneth Rausch as the video game narrator is the steady and often frustrating voice of reason, for Hero. Bess Moynihan is the Peasant Girl who may be more than she appears, while Brendan Allen is more smug and foul-mouthed anti-hero than his Hero moniker might suggest, and is burdened with the worst dialogue in the sophomoric script. Allen and Moynihan make the most of their predicaments, however, for what it’s worth.
Admittedly I’m no fan of video games, and after hearing Lovejoy’s script that opinion has been reinforced. Thankfully, the comic talent of Mitchell’s troupe saves the production from being a complete waste of time.
Rating: A 3 on a scale of 1-to-5.