Saturday, April 09, 2011

AS IF!—Review

I already mentioned in my preview of As If! Like, a performance, Duh (As If!), that—if you haven't already bought a ticket for the sold-out six+-performance run of As If!—you might as well plaster a big ol' glittery "L" on your forehead. Talk about a failing grade. And now that I've seen the show, I can emphasize in bold that "L" is for LOSER! Check it out! You better pray or pay big bucks to get squeezed into the remaining performances of this enthused, imaginative and downright fun send-up of Amy Heckerling's 1995 American comedy Clueless.

I'm the first to admit that I am
way too old to have experienced the "val-parties" of the 1990s; but—thanks to the prescient vision of Energy Club Unlimited (namely, Em Gift, Leslie Kulesh and Liz Franczak)—intermission to As If! provided an opportunity to interactively experience the film's theme party by drinking my whiskey neat, smoking a little boo, and dancing a sweat to infectious music from the '90s, while cast members of the ensemble interacted with their audience and furthered narrative traction by renacting key scenes from that infamous party.

Em Gift deserves a major shout-out for her creative staging of Liz Franczak's adaptation of the original screenplay, using Engine Works' limited space to maximum effect (her stashing and staging of props was completely ingenious), and Franczak has done a sharp job of condensing the screenplay to its most comic elements, assisted by Nick Demarco's video interstitials (the "loader" sequence with a pothead sucking on a bong was priceless). The re-creation of a 1990 Beverly Hills high school was achieved through Leslie Kulesh's evocative installation set-pieces and Leah Martin's vibrant quick-change costume design splashed color all over the stage.

Performance-wise, the women owned that colorful stage: Hannah Hunt inhabited the role of Cher Horowitz to sexy perfection and her frustrated whine guaranteed a laugh every time. Carla Baker as Cher's best friend Dionne (the two were named after famous acts reduced to infomercials and were best friends because they each understood what it meant to have others be jealous of them) brought to hilarious life the freeway driving sequence: perhaps one of the most difficult scenes to re-enact from the entire film. Katie Miller as Tai was sexy as a stoner gal shifting into valleyhood and—of all the male actors in the ensemble—Andy Schosser shone as skater boy Travis, inflecting his characterization with charismatic street cred. Perhaps the performance that most deviated from the original (and popped because of that) was Anna Seregina as the lesbian P.E. coach Ms. Stoeger. But let me emphasize, the ensemble
as a whole deserve ovation.

I wanted to stick around for the second late night performance but it was sold out. On the horizon for Energy Club Unlimited? A staging of
Party Girl or The Craft. I want witches! What about you?

No comments: