Devil Boys from Beyond
nytheatre.com review by Robin Rothstein
August 23, 2009
If you've been jonesing for the bygone days of Theatre-in-Limbo's campy drag-fests such as Vampire Lesbians of Sodom, Psycho Beach Party, or The Lady In Question, you're in luck! Devil Boys from Beyond, the larger-than-life homage to leading ladies and low-budget sci-fi films of the '50s, has landed at the New York International Fringe Festival and invaded the Actors Playhouse!
It's 1957 and The New York Daily Bugle is about to go under unless it breaks a big story—and fast! Bugle editor Gilbert Wiatt convinces his Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Mattie Van Buren to fly down to Lizard Lick, Florida to investigate rumors of a spaceship landing and missing townspeople. Along for the ride is Daily Bugle photographer, Gregory Graham, who also happens to be Mattie's boozing, skirt-chasing ex-husband, and lurking just behind the pair is Lucinda Marsh, Mattie's conniving rival, who hopes to scoop the story. Once in Lizard Lick, Mattie and Gregory meet Florence Wexler and Dotty Primrose, two homely old bags who, to Mattie's complete disbelief, are married to hunky young husbands. Something is indeed amiss in Lizard Lick, and Mattie intends to get to the bottom of it.
The production values of Devil Boys from Beyond are diva-liciously kitschy, and all the elements of the show—the writing, acting, direction, and design—work together flawlessly. Paul Pecorino as Mattie is a dead ringer for Joan Crawford, his eye movements alone eliciting some of the biggest laughs in the show. The entire cast, though, knows how to deliver looks and lines with precision. Chris Dell'Armo as the towering Lucinda Marsh is a juicy foil, and Peter Cormican, as the harried Gilbert Wiatt, along with Robert Berliner as handsome rake Gregory Graham, both play their roles with hilarious straight-faced intensity. Ridiculous Theatre Company vet Everett Quinton as cranky local Florence Wexler, and Theatre-in-Limbo alum Andy Halliday as Lizard Lick's sassy motel owner, Dotty Primrose, are true masters of this milieu, and both are a hoot and half. Playing the hunky young aliens, Jacques Mitchell and Jeff Riberdy possess a naive charm that serves their roles well.
Director of camp extraordinaire, Kenneth Elliott is back in his element and he ties up all the goings-on with a big, loony bow. His direction is clever and detailed, and he generally keeps things moving at an energized clip. There are a handful of spots where the pacing falters, but that might have more to do with the piece needing some internal pruning. Buddy Thomas's script is not only funny, but surprisingly intelligent at times given the silly premise, and he sneaks in his share of social commentary. (Aliens are apparently light years ahead of us earthlings on marriage equality.) Gail Bardoni's stylized costumes range from of the period to delightfully outrageous, and Gerard Kelly's wig designs are expertly wrought. Vivien Leone's lighting and Brian T. Whitehill's sets effectively establish and maintain the show's charming B-movie feel, and Drew Fornarola's sound design punctuates the plot throughout with terrific goofy touches, although a song he's written for Mattie slows the action and feels out of place, perhaps because it is the only song in the show.
Given the oversold house during its first performance, and the audience's enthusiastic reception, Devil Boys from Beyond may be a downtown hit in the making and remain on Earth beyond the Fringe, but as of now that's just wishful thinking, so catch Devil Boys while you can. I guarantee you'll laugh your anal probe off.