nytheatre.com review by Josh Sherman
August 11, 2007
Scout's Honor! is a pair of interlocking one-acts, "Snipe Hunt" and "Becky's Beaver," about boy and girl scout retreats in the Northern New Jersey woods. Written by Ed Valentine, I'm guessing that it was intended to be a send-up of the borderline gay culture that can manifest itself via single-sex groupings in the wilderness. But somewhere between the page and the stage much of the very broad humor fell flat, and the result is that Scout's Honor! comes across as cartoonish rather than campy. The six actors make a game effort to wring the most out of it, complete with cross-dressing in both pieces, but they are hamstrung by the middle-school-level humor.
"Snipe Hunt" is the boy scout piece, which features a search for the mystical "snipe." Great pains are taken to describe how terrifying the snipe is and how the leader of the scouts, Chuck (Chris Caron) is only selecting two of the remaining three cub scouts to become boy scouts. Stereotypically, there is one closeted gay scout named Bean (a very funny Joel Derfner), an uptight preppie (Chance Muehleck) and a possible psychopath (the equally funny Robin Reed). It isn't long before Chuck and Bean get alone together in the woods and discover their thinly veiled gay attraction. Eventually, it is determined that there is no such thing as a snipe, making the dramatic buildup of the hunt feel like a waste of time.
"Becky's Beaver" fares slightly better. Becky (Carrie Haugh) is a lisping, Jan Brady-clone Girl Scout in Troop 666 who is on the outside looking in at the cool clique within the Troop, which is led by Barbara (the effectively slutty Renee Rakel). Her entourage includes the Bitty (Caron in drag) and the murmuring Boo (Derfner, also in drag), and the three of them, in true Mean Girls-inspired style, verbally bash the ineffectual Becky. Becky and her closeted b.f.f. Marty (another great turn from Reed) are forced by troop leader Mrs. Babcock (Muehleck) to go on a beaver hunt to find out who can bag the biggest beaver. Is this funny? Actually, I thought the first five minutes of "Becky's Beaver" were kind of funny, but it became the same joke about bagging a big beaver after that. There is some pretty good chemistry among the actors in this piece but the script once again lets them down a bit by going around in circles. There is also an anatomically correct and very graphic beaver hand puppet sex sequence that I found disgusting and unnecessary.
I should qualify my comments by stating that there were several members of the audience that were absolutely howling with laughter during Scout's Honor! But for me, this play felt like a couple of skits that ran out of gas too early.