Landless Theatre Company’s Third Annual Mashup Festival brought two teams of super creative genius together to form one long running festival of hilarity and hysterics, combining the most unlikely stories for a great night of ridiculous theatre. Re-Animated Edition, feature thrice-returning Mashup artists Ian Hoch and Steve Custer, was a lively and rousing good double-bill featuring The Walking Fred, a hodgepodge combination of The Flintstones and The Walking Dead, and Saving Private Pooh, juxtaposing the plot of Saving Private Ryan against the characters of Winnie The Pooh. All in all, it was a great night for shenanigans and belly-laughs as the creative teams worked to deliver the comedy to the audience.
Saving Private Pooh
Written by creative minds Ian Hoch and Steve Custer, with Custer standing as the show’s director, presents the audience with a peculiar blend of comedy and tragedy. There are moments in the show where the grave severity and overwhelming sadness of the action bristle and burble in a manner most volatile against the madcap hilarity and shenanigans. But all in all it’s an extremely clever concept with a few added Nazi movie references that come into play. Following the basic plot structure of Saving Private Ryan, this Mashup lands the characters of Winnie The Pooh, in formation as “Honey Company” following C. Robinson into 100 acre Nazi-occupied Woods to rescue Private Poo.
The costumes make this Mashup particularly laughable; rudimentary attempts at mimicking the color scheme of the various storybook characters easily reflected in their shirts and chintzy ears. It’s a homage to simplistically drawn cartoon sketches, fitting the overall animation theme of the Mashup.
Custer and Hoch’s writing do certain characters a great justice, mimicking the speech patterns to perfection and including catch-phrases and signature lines to make the characters even more recognizable in this spoof. They succeed the best with Trigger (played by Hoch) and Piglet (Lauren Kuhn).
Hoch, as the bouncy pouncing Trigger, has an astonishing endurance for consistent movement, bouncing in place, bouncing when kneeling, perpetually in motion until he simply isn’t anymore. (SPOILERS won’t let me tell you why). And Hoch’s accent is simply hysterical, reminiscent of that fuzzy orange creature whose tops are made of the rubber and whose bottoms are made of the spring. Kuhn, as the nervous stuttering character who might as well be afraid of her own shadow, does an equally impressive job of keeping up the characterization which she crafts into the role.
Other standouts include Donkey (Erik Morrison) who is so depressive that you can feel his melancholy radiating out to the audience in waves, and C. Robinson (Russel Silber) who alternates between a proper child-like British accent and a rough southern jackass, presenting a parody of the Brad Pitt character from Inglorious Bastards.
Without giving away too many of the great secrets, there are some extremely awkward death scenes, so bring your tissues. Custer and Hoch craft the tender moments and morals of “Pooh” into the story as well. All in all the Mashup is good fun, if a little long, which again just pays further homage to the movie from which it finds its inspiration.
The Walking Fred
With zombies being all the rage these days it’s hard not to love a Mashup of TV’s most popular zombie show, The Walking Dead and a classic cartoon, The Flintstones. Written by Maurice Martin and Directed by Erik Morrison, this uproarious irreverent adventure into the Hannah-Barbera inspired universe brings the undead to riotous life!
Martin’s writing is top-notch when it comes to executing jokes and knowing exactly where to place them for maximum effect. He has the characterization of ‘Fred,’ ‘Barney’ and others written to the epitome of their actual existences. All of the references to bedrock including the dinosaurs as every day machines and inventions are present for this show. The inclusion of special characters like Dino, Great Gazoo and a special futuristic spaceman make it that much more epic. There’s even a throwback to the old Winston Cigarette commercial, which is a priceless moment of pure laughter all round.
Fred (Adam R. Adkins) has a mastery of vocal mimicry when it comes to channeling the big dumb-dumb from the Bedrock era. Complete with twinkle-toe sound effects, from his Yabba-Dabba-Doo to his bright orange cave suit, he’ll have you rolling with laughter. Joining Adkins in the hilarity is Barney (Steve Custer.) The laugh alone that Custer brings for the character is so eerily reminiscent of the old cartoons that you can’t help but double over in laughter whenever he chuckles. The pair play well off one another despite the tensions that rise between the characters during the show.
Without speaking of who he plays so as not to spoil the most epic 5-minute segment of the show, Robert King makes a cameo that had me laughing so hard. He jets along in this role, a real working sprocket in this big crazy thing. And king of the accents goes to David Benji Weiner for his role as Great Gazoo. With the perfect bored apathy and slightly annoyed amusement, Weiner channels the little green space man to perfection.
Landless Theatre Company’s Third Annual Mashup Festival: Re-Animated Edition is guaranteed to present bedrock and zombies, in a whole new light, so much so that I can guarantee you’ll have a ‘Yabba-Dabba-Doo time, you’ll have a gay old time!’
Running Time: 90 minutes, with one brief intermission.
The Mashup Festival: Re-Animated Edition played through June 29, 2013 at GALA Hispanic Theatre at Tivoli Square— 3333 14th Street NW in Washington, DC. Tickets are available for purchase at the door, or in advance online.