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Conquest of the Universe or When Queens Collide

From 13 critic and 8 member reviews
Members say: Dated, Entertaining, Disappointing, Clever, Indulgent

About the show

On the 50th Anniversary of The Ridiculous Theatrical Company and 30 years since Ludlam's death, La MaMa celebrates the artistry of Charles Ludlam with fully produced revival of Ludlam's early masterwork. More…

'Conquest of the Universe or When Queens Collide' is an epic collage inspired by Marlowe's 'Tamburlaine the Great' that is as outrageous and timely today as when first performed in 1967. A futuristic tale of war across the universe. Literary, film, and dramatic treasures are ransacked and pillaged for the comic dialogue and multiple plots in this humorous tale of unbridled space queens!


“Played to perfection with an infectious joy by one and all, the entire cast also takes a deadly serious attitude towards their lines and their actions. Indeed Ludlam's ‘Conquest’ invokes ‘Hamlet’ in its final scene, when many of the characters die--even following a previous ‘gravedigger’ scene. And as staged by Quinton, the final ‘banquet’ scene also invokes Da Vinci's ‘The Last Supper.’ All I can say is, go and enjoy!” Full Review


"To watch Quinton engaged in his classic brand of silliness is just as fulfilling a cultural experience as watching a great tragedian immersed in a dramatic Shakespearean role...This is fine theatrical art that must be seen to be fully appreciated...Though delightfully silly, the production is not without its problems...But these are minor setbacks compared with the treat of seeing this type of theatre packaged by one of the artists who was so instrumental in developing it." Full Review

Talkin' Broadway

"It's testament to Ludlam's writing that the play manages to still be subtle even as it wears all its themes on its prominent sleeve...It revels in the kind of sexuality that most mainstream works desperately try to evade (dildos and butts galore!), but in doing so it empowers the characters who embrace sexuality as an essential part of what makes them human...Showcases Theatre of the Absurd at the peak of its powers: it's entertaining, illuminating, and empowering.” Full Review


“’Conquest of the Universe’ still packs an exhilaratingly off-the-wall wallop if you're able to get onto its deliriously campy wavelength...With bits of high-art eloquence coexisting with instances of low vulgarity...The show's anarchic spirit — the sense of liberation it exudes in breaking down barriers of style and taste — that makes it as enlivening as ever. There's a beauty to the madness...As this new production proves, such an experience has the power to transcend time and history.” Full Review

More Than The Play Blog

“Director Everett Quinton recreates this Ridiculous Theatrical Company production with bawdy humor and raucous sexual innuendo...Quinton embodies the timing and rhythm that makes Charles Ludlam’s work relevant and alive...Over-the-top performances are delivered by the entire cast...This production celebrates the cutting edge experimental theatre of Charles Ludlam and The Ridiculous. If you have not experienced it before, this is your chance.” Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

“‘Conquest’ does have some tragic moments but all are superseded by the cosmic comedy and the ribald 'ridiculousness' of the play...Ludlum throws in everything but the kitchen sink...Occasionally the humor fell flat but the cast’s manic energy kept the production alive. And the play did end with tragedy and death but not without a cogent, and funny delivery system that unabashedly embraced pan-sexual ferocity and provided pure distraction from the darkness of our times.” Full Review


“If the play is not quite the shocking marvel of audacious camp it was during its own time, it gives audiences a spectacular peek at a genre and a performance style that peaked and eventually paled...Subtlety is not in their melodramatic vocabulary...Some of this is indeed very funny...politicized soft-porn with a wink. I suspect that Ludlam's irrepressibly ridiculous play will likely continue to orbit in the outer limits of dramatic literature long after others in the genre have faded away.” Full Review

Times Square Chronicles

“The beauty of the work is that it takes itself so seriously that you know it’s supposed to be hilarious and ridiculous...While the motifs are constantly shifting, and it is sometimes hard to follow the finer points of 60s pop culture references, the actors are clearly having a blast performing and interacting with the design elements. It’s ridiculous and incredible to watch. Truthfully – it’s not for everyone. I didn’t love it, but I sure can appreciate it.” Full Review

Motherhood Later

"While I found myself losing track at times of the plot, I marveled at the command of the performances from both the newbies and veteran RTC actors...Isn’t for everyone, but RTC remains true to their mission and delivers as promised…This campy show packs a satirical hard-on that would please any diehard Ridiculous fan, of which there are plenty. And, while I was honestly not a enamored with this production, it certainly was escapist." Full Review

The New York Times

“Conquest’ has nothing like the formal symmetry or coherence that Ludlam would bring to his later works...But it does reflect, almost blindingly, the central Ludlam tenet of creative line blurring—between classical and pop, beautiful and ugly, sacred and profane, male and female, professional and amateur...An exceptionally lavish production—or trash-lavish anyway...Even if you find your eyes glazing from the too-muchness of it all, the cast seems to be having a high old time.” Full Review

Front Row Center

"A sci-fi parody of intergalactic conquest...It is comedy as broad as comedy gets, retelling (sort of) the story of 'Tamburlaine' in a wildly over-the-top, nothing-is-sacred style...This slick, strikingly theatrical production is too grand for its own good. The imposing set and the epic musical score are somewhat at odds with the insouciant nature of the script and the willfully amateurish performances of its cast.” Full Review


"At best, it is an historical curiosity, as Ludlam's Ridiculous Theatrical Company is clamoring at the door of a culture whose guardians have already let them in. In 2017, this play commits a sin far worse than muddying the good names of our respected dramatists - it is boring." Full Review

The Knockturnal

“Assaults the audience with a massive collage of moods all at once...Ludlam’s core theatrical belief was that every play/production should be an ‘experiment’...’Conquest’ is certainly no exception...It’s difficult to determine what exactly the hypothesis of this experiment was. The play is long, melodramatic, self-referential, gratuitously and violently sexual, and frequently disregards the fourth wall...It came across as little more than a piece of grisly kitsch.” Full Review

Dizzying, Edgy, Quirky, Entertaining, Great staging

See it if you enjoy legendary Ludlum campy, edgy, theater. This production has great acting, costumes and staging. Overall fun.

Don't see it if you don't like camp and are offended by sexual and scatological humor. Production is not for kids and not for some adults.

Delightful, Great acting, Great writing, Entertaining, Great staging

See it if You love seeing rarely-staged works by great playwrights, in this case Charles Ludlam. Beautifully directed by Everett Quinton at LaMama!

Don't see it if You're a bit tightly wound; don't care for simulated sex scenes, well orgies, onstage.

Hilarious and gorgeous with over-the-top costumes and sets

See it if you crave a gonzo tale of the ambition of Tamberlaine, President of Earth, to take over the other planets one by one. Quinton is peerless

Don't see it if Ludlum's Theater of the Ridiculous is not for you. Talented cast of downtown performers. Eye-popping costumes. Inter-galactic set

Grab bag lunacy, Sci-fi meets jacobean revenge tragedy with wigs, Raunchy and witty if sometimes tedious

See it if you're a fan of Ludlam/Quinton/the Ridiculous; you want a warts & all glimpse of Ludlam's nascent genius; you can forgive some overlong bits

Don't see it if you're expecting the polish of later Ludlam works; this is celebration of the RTC at its birth--everyone went on to do arguably better work

Also This is a wonderful homage to the raunchy, unbridled humor and rage of... Read more Read less

Indulgent, Disappointing, Cliched, Dated, Entertaining

See it if you want to go back to the glorious days of the Ridiculous Theater.

Don't see it if you won' engage in a willing suspension of disbelief regarding the dated quality of the show.

Also Everett Quinton is a stage genius but this is not his vehicle.

Ambitious, Disappointing, Dated

See it if you are interested in the early works of Charles Ludlam and the origins of the Ridiculous Theater's aesthetic and acting style.

Don't see it if you are expecting an experience comparable to Ludlam's more famous later work at the Ridiculous Theater's height in the 70s and 80s.

Also Attending a performance that included a Q&A with the director helped p... Read more Read less

Clever, Raunchy, Indulgent, Disappointing, Dated

See it if You're a queer theatre completist or you like very alternative takes on classic plays.

Don't see it if You're expecting concise wit. This is a 75-minute show that runs for 100 minutes.

Also I just didn't think it was very funny. At all. What's more I was often... Read more Read less

During previews
Funny, Clever, Dated

See it if you love Everett Quinton and Ludlam

Don't see it if you cannot forgive some tedium at the beginning. It is dated but gets better as it goes along,

Cast & Creatives (14)