Gregory G. H. Rihn (milwaukeesfs) wrote,
Gregory G. H. Rihn

Angry Young Men, Ltd., "Full Frontal Puppetry: Summer Sell-Out"

We received an invitation from Dick and Leah Zeldes Smith to join them in seeing "Full Frontal Puppetry: Summer Sell-Out" Saturday night the 14th. At first, I was a bit bemused by the title, confusing it with the notorious "Puppetry of the Penis," shows, but it's not that.

Angry Young Men, Ltd. is a mostly anonymous troupe specializing in Muppet-style puppetry with a bit edgier content than would be acceptable on home TV, without actually being TOO rude. (The introduction advised us the show was rated PG-13 for "adolescent humor," which was at least truth in advertising--.)

The show had quite a few good points. The actual puppetry was very good. The puppets that weren't just basic Muppet knock-offs, such as the groups' trademark zombie puppets, were cleverly designed. The show's token human, Alice Wilson, is an energetic performer and deals with being front woman for a cast of puppets with reasonable dignity.

Unfortunately, the show also had significant flaws both in content and in execution. Sketch comedy is a difficult form to do well, and the troupe's writers are not above beginner/amateur level. There were a lot of individual funny lines, especially the 'sponsor messages' that ended most of the skits, but a lot more just weren't funny, and a lot of the skits just ended without a really discernible punch line.

About half the show's content by duration is pre-recorded video, which suffered from mediocre sound quality, which made it hard to understand anything that WAS funny. Particularly hard hit were sketches involving a couple of redneck/rube characters whose already distorted voices were further blurred by poor recording/playback to the point of being unintelligible.

A bit more attention to the audience would also have helped. The first half ended with the cast stampeding off stage, and no particular indication whether or not that was the end of the show. Some of the audience left, whether because they were fed up or just thought that was the end, I couldn't tell.

Actually, most of the best bits were in the second half. A piece on combating terror by emotional means such as raising terrorist's self-esteem, had some clever bits. Ditto the political debate featuring fringe parties such as the Preemie Party (representing the unborn), the Robot party, the Undecided party, the Green party (represented by a potted plant), and the "Teabagger party" (Slogan: "We don't think the American government can do anything right, and if you elect us, we'll prove it!").
One of the running gags in the show, Ms. Wilson being stalked by an amorous zombie (and who better for a creepy stalker--), culminated in a cute song and dance number that was a highlight of the show. After all, how often do you get to see a girl take a shovel to the head of her dance partner?

Tickets were ten dollars. Of that, we got $5.00 worth of humor, and $5.00 worth of fun making snarky remarks to one another about the show, so I didn't feel ripped off. On the other hand, none of us would go to another show by this group unless reviews indicated a significant improvement.

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Tags: theatre
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