NAUGHTY BITS – Written and Directed by Buntport Theatre Company Members. Produced by Buntport Theatre Co (717 Lipan, Denver) through October 22. Tickets available at 720/946-1388 or buntport.com.
You can always count on the wacky crew at Buntport to provide its audiences with a good time. They make you laugh, first and foremost, but they also make you think and, in spite of yourself, learn something about some subject in which you previously had no interest whatsoever. Art history is a big one – they seem to love exploring art. What immediately comes to mind whenever I contemplate art history (which I do often . . . . right!!) is THE REMBRANDT ROOM in which company member Erin Rollman became a museum security guard in front of a Rembrandt painting so long she knew every little thing there was to know about it. Literature is another – MOBY DICK UNREAD, THE ODYSSEY WALKING TOUR, MY SIGNIFICANT BOTHER (about James Thurber’s short stories), PAPER MONSTERS (reviewing the cliff notes on BEOWULF), KAFKA ON ICE, and QUIXOTE – the very first Buntport script. Not to be overlooked are their homages to Shakespeare oft repeated because they are favorites of so many patrons: TITUS ANDRONICUS THE MUSICAL (done at least four times and could be repeated each year), MACBLANK, SOMETHING IS ROTTEN (their version of HAMLET long before the Broadway musical) and WAKE (a take on THE TEMPEST).
Buntport also has a gift for destroying time – often working in several dimensions or eras simultaneously. They enjoy moving characters out of their true historical era and placing them in unfamiliar territory. Or putting invisible shields between characters to allow multiple stories to be told all at the same time. Sounds complicated – but when you see the shows, you understand.
NAUGHTY BITS is also a take on art history, art owners, and art writers (if romance novels are considered art). It uses three eras and three points of view to investigate the history of a statue of Hericles (or Hercules, if you prefer) who has inexplicably lost his largest naughty bit. We first meet the nouveau riche couple (Brian Colonna and Erin Rollman) who have moved into the mansion currently housing the artwork. By their costumes and dialogue, they are obviously from somewhere in the 20’s or 30’s. It’s the first time she has been in the ‘new’ house and is being mildly reprimanded for her propensity to vandalize the artwork in previous rentals. She is an overly dramatic actress of sorts; he is a loving husband who can seemingly deny her nothing; together they enjoy a frisky and loving relationship.
The second to arrive with his projection equipment is a nerdy art history professor (Erik Edborg) delivering a lecture regarding the same statue’s origins and dimensions (or lack thereof) complete with what looks like the first ever slide projector. Thirdly, we meet a modern-day author (Hannah Duggan) who is using the statue as a character in her latest romance novel. In a prolonged phone conversation with her publisher, she explains her Pygmalion-type plot. In great detail.
All three conversations are happening simultaneously one at a time. When one character speaks, the other two (or three) mime silently their own conversations. It becomes a jigsaw of a revelation during which we learn facets of art we’ve probably never contemplated. It’s only in the last few minutes that the three conversations collide into a nervous breakdown.
It’s difficult to praise these players enough and what to praise them for most. You must remember that not only are these folk acting these complicated sets of dialogue overlapping each other, they also wrote what you are watching. They have conceived the idea, created the characters, researched the subject, written the words, directed themselves, built the set, found the costumes and devised the accompanying lights and sound. The four on stage are supported technically every step of the way by the fifth brilliant member of the troupe, SamAnTha Schmitz. Is there another company in Denver – nay, in Colorado – who does this? I think not! Their class, intelligence and confidence shows through every moment of every production.
A WOW factor of 9.5!!