The Kentucky Goblin Siege
nytheatre.com review by Richard Hinojosa
October 27, 2010
The Kentucky Goblin Siege is good clean comedy at its best. It has funny characters, good writing, and a strong cast and crew. I love No Tea Production's cool indie theater attitude. It's very communal as in not self indulgent. They're not trying to blow your mind, they just want to make you chuckle and that they do.
It's based on an actual event in Kentucky in the '50s. Three families reported being terrorized by some kind of goblin or alien. Playwright Jeff Sproul takes this incident and sets it in the home of Glennie Lankford. Billy Ray Taylor is in town and he's showing off his fancy new baby and his Yankee wife. All is not well in his marriage and the folks back home aren't faring all that much better. His best friend Elmer lost his job as a party clown and he's sleeping on Glennie's couch. Elmer's dim brother Dwight is also there with his odd girlfriend Carol Ann and so is Glennie's touched son Lonnie and her rebellious daughter Geraldine. Billy Ray sees some bright lights in the sky and before you know it the house is being invaded by little green goblins that don't die when you blast them point blank with a shotgun. This adversity brings them closer together by drawing out some of their best qualities. Heck, Glennie even tries to communicate with the aliens.
Sproul's script is solid. It's funny, well structured, and his characters aren't as thinly drawn as you may think when you first meet them. He gives them unexpected intelligence and depth for being such dim-witted hicks. I really enjoyed his crisp, clean dialogue. His wit is a nice combination of the obvious joke and the subtle, barely implied joke. It's like watching an old episode of Mama's Family except not nearly as grumpy. I laughed an awful lot and much of it was due to the hilarious characters created by the cast.
Christine Sullivan plays Glennie and she looks just perfect for this role. She's does a great job. Jeremy Banks and Sproul play old buddies Billy Ray and Elmer, just right. Sproul brings very natural, endearing qualities to his role and Banks plays the "average guy" very well. Jeremy Mather's jerky, uncoordinated physicality is hilarious as the mentally challenged Lonnie and I loved Alexis Robbins as Carol Ann. She gets so excited she has to be knocked out with chloroform. The rest of the cast, D. Robert Wolcheck, Sabrina Farhi, Michele McNally, Alicia Barnatchez, Mike Quirk, Jesse Bernath, and Jesse Jones, are excellent in their roles. This is a great ensemble. Each actor creates something funny and unique about his or her character.
The invaders are played by three rod puppets with movable mouths. Designed by Anna Paniccia and Puppet Heap, they look great and move well. The puppeteers, Elizabeth Dapo, Ryan-Michele Healy, Lisa Nussbaum, Barnatchez, Bernath, and Quirk, do a good job animating them. Each puppet requires two people to operate it so their movements have to be very well coordinated. Director Lindsey Moore infuses this production with an even tone of comedy and melodrama. This style supports the script nicely. My favorite scene is the Matrix-style fight scene where fast action slows to a crawl as the puppeteers step in to help a gun thrown across the room flip through the air and then the action goes back to normal speed. Props go out to fight director Kenneth Nicholas on that one. I also liked Caroline O'Hare's costumes. She certainly captures the backwoods and uptown '50s look. And I have to say that I really enjoyed Chuck Plummer's original banjo score that pops up in between some scenes.
The Kentucky Goblin Siege is a good time waiting to be had. I forget how much I enjoy comedy like this. In a way I felt like I was seeing some community theatre in a small town and I think that sort of wholesomeness takes the world of the play and drops it right in your lap. If that sounds like something that's just right for you don't miss this one.