Theater Breaking Through Barriers revives Charles Ludlam's comic noir, which pulls from works as diverse as 'Double Indemnity' and 'Therese Raquin' in its tale of love, murder, and piranha fish! More…
Chester Nurdiger lives in the back of his pet shop with his mother and his bored wife, Roxanne. One day, slick drifter Zachary Slade comes along and is hired to work in the shop. After sparks ignite between Roxanne and Zachary, they plot to murder Chester and feed him to the piranhas.
"Anyone who saw the original 'The Artificial Jungle' in 1986 will find the current revival a blast from the past and a replica production. That's because it's directed with real pizzazz and flair by Everett Quinton, who was a star of the original production, and he knows exactly what made it work in the first place. The revival is in celebration of the 50th anniversary of The Ridiculous Theatrical Company." Full Review
“The production provides plenty of hilarity, thanks to Quinton's direction and a cast that knows that the surest route to big laughs involves playing this absurdly steamy melodrama for keeps…Quinton, who knows this property better than anyone alive, orchestrates the action with gusto…The director handles these high-camp proceedings with total deadpan assurance, keeping his cast from signaling to the audience that they know they're in a comedy.” Full Review
"Directed into 100 minutes of quick-paced theatrical excellence by Ludlam’s talented partner Everett Quinton. 'The Artificial Jungle' mixes all human emotions into a stew of wonderful theater...The delight of most Ludlam plays is to take the structure of classical text and add layers of parody, camp performance, and fun. 'The Artificial Jungle' succeeds on all these levels...The cast is fantastic across the board." Full Review
"A riotous revival...Thirty years later, the play still feels subversive, witty, and even eerily relevant....Under the steady direction of Everett Quinton, the entire cast unflinchingly commits to each beat...Even when you're laughing at the suspense-genre tropes, you can't help jump in your seat when they take you by surprise...Lest you think 'The Artificial Jungle' is merely a camp-fest, good for laughs and nothing more, a sly social critique emerges." Full Review
"'The Artificial Jungle' is lovingly and faithfully directed by award-winning actor/playwright Everett Quinton...The energetic, dedicated cast seems to be having as much fun as the audience. All of the players excel at both the fast-paced physical comedy as well as with their dead-on delivery of the script’s endless comedic torpedoes, fired so fast that the audience often doesn’t see them coming." Full Review
“The hilarious, campy style of Charles Ludlam lives on in this excellent revival...The play and production, like Ludlam, is indeed ridiculous, so if you’re looking for sincere, heartfelt fare, this is not it. But if you’re looking to celebrate the artificial limitations of theatre, and laugh at the ridiculousness of stock characters, a fabricated plot, and phony-baloney horror, ‘The Artificial Jungle’ will make you smile. I can’t think of a better way to honor Ludlam’s memory." Full Review
"Essential queer theatre viewing–and one hell of a lot of fun...The director for this production is Ludlam’s husband and muse, Everett Quinton. Quinton is the ideal interpreter of Ludlam’s plays, knowing when to be loyal to what Ludlam had already done, and when to push things even further into preposterousness to keep it fresh. Quinton has a marvelous cast to work with, who seem to truly get it...Hilarious, and highly recommended." Full Review
"This is a fearless production, helmed by Everett Quinton. The script is strange, the premise is absurd, and there are puppet piranhas (brilliantly and comically executed by Satoshi Haga). It is uncomfortable in all the right ways, and even if the humor isn’t your typical preference, the talent in, and skilled execution of, this play, are undeniable. It is a delightful, murderous, piranha-filled romp." Full Review
"'The Artificial Jungle' plays as 'The Postman Always Rings Twice' done via a Carol Burnett skit, set in a Lower East Side pet store. It is goofy, farcical and very funny. The play, by the prolific Charles Ludlam, is loud and preposterous but doesn't fall to slapstick. It all works because the terrific actors might be playing everything over-the-top, but they take it seriously. They pull out all the stops without ever breaking character. It is this group of professionals that sell this jungle." Full Review
"It surprised my inpatient mind with plenty of amusement once it got rolling, though it needed to percolate a little sooner...Anita Hollander, as Mama Nurdlinger, is really the stand out actor here...I felt that the male characters of Zachary Slade played by Anthony Michael Lopez and David Harrell as Chester needed to work on keeping it broad while keeping it balanced. It was a pleasure the nonetheless." Full Review
"After wobbling in tone and pace, the production pops to life in its much briefer second act, a straightforwardly silly travesty of 'Thérèse Raquin.' Alyssa H. Chase plays a trashy Venus flytrap of an unfaithful wife—as though 'Little Shop of Horrors's' Audrey had the soul of Audrey II—and the capable Anthony Michael Lopez is the sexy drifter she ropes into crime. A grinning puppet piranha provides welcome comic bravado; this is a rare play where the scenery chews the actors." Full Review
“A fun evening of silly entertainment…For this revival, director Everett Quinton...gives us more smiles and appreciative chuckles than guffaws and belly laughs…The cast as a whole does well with their roles, but because the plot itself is predictable, there are only a few surprises. The best of these involve the participation of the marvelous piranhas…They are full of personality, and enrich the production tenfold.” Full Review
“A welcome reminder of the brilliance of Charles Ludlam. But the production doesn't come without some imperfections…The subversive styling of ‘The Artificial Jungle’ holds up all these years later. It's wonderfully ridiculous…The comedy needed to be much sharper. The text was there. The staging faltered...The five-piece ensemble went big and bold with a tinge of reality, and played into the hands of the audience...It may not be perfection but it certainly is cheeky." Full Review
"Moderately amusing revival…Much of this can be humorous but it no longer packs the comic punch it had in 1986…While the exaggerated acting is more or less in tune with Ludlam's intentions, it can do little with lines that too often thud and situations that are wildly overstated…The show's drollest moments, though, come from those ravenous piranhas, represented by puppets...Their reactions to what's going on offer the show's most hilarious contribution." Full Review
"It’s that touch of zaniness that’s lacking in this revival by Theater Breaking Through Barriers...Even under Mr. Quinton’s direction, the cast members strain rather than perform and don’t appear to enjoy a gourmand’s taste for riotous, yet disciplined, scenery-chewing. Ms. Chase comes closest with a ripe Noo Yawk accent that drips over her lines like hot fudge on a sundae. But even a tasty dessert can’t rescue a pallid main course." Full Review
See it if Tight ensemble works like a Swiss watch. Bank on Chase, pretty and sassy leading lady. Just buy into the situation and let farce entertain.
Don't see it if You hate farce and need a steady drama diet.
See it if you love farce. Or if you have fond memories of the Ridiculous Theatre company. If is goofy and fun - a modern day Carol Burnett sketch.
Don't see it if you hate farce. Or if you want a serious night out.
See it if You like dark comedy, camp & definitely over the top performances by a talented cast, see this show. It's laugh out loud funny at times.
Don't see it if Don't like camp or the ridiculous, want thought provoking work or expect a serious show...this is not for you.
See it if You appreciate camp, over the top shows. You appreciate a small, diverse cast. You can suspend reality to enjoy the absurd.
Don't see it if You are excited about a true murder mystery show. You don't like predictable storylines. You need high tech special effects.
See it if Ludlam's rarely seen campy send up of Postman Always Rings Twice gets a 'straightened' but limp production by Ridiculous alumnus Quinton
Don't see it if Well staged & intentioned but w/o high camp quotient becomes stodgy & slow Actors work hard w/Chase coming closest The piranhas steal show
See it if your only acquaintance with Charles Ludlam is "Irma Vep" because the guy wrote a lot of plays and this one hasn't dated at all.
Don't see it if you're expecting high camp or something deliriously gay as the current production is more like a noir sitcom with a few good sight gags.
See it if you like campy stylized shows regardless of how well produced they are.
Don't see it if you expect a well-paced, specifically directed show when you see a show that deals with heightened style.
See it if You like over-the-top campy theatre with an unrealistic plot that is heightened by absurdism of the highest order.
Don't see it if You want to see an evenly talented cast that can do justice to the play...
See it if You can stand bad comedy, camp, cheesy acting, bad taste. You like not just "B Movies" but "F Movies." You're a "So awful, its decent" type.
Don't see it if Want good acting, a good story, or something meaningful. The actors and story are exceptionally bad in this one. Cliché city. My brain died.
See it if You have a simple mind and don't know funny. Watch the lead actress get banged and moan in a vulgar, explicit, and pointless sex scene. Why?
Don't see it if You want quality - this is not. All the actors are one-note and ill-trained. This is a stupid premise and tasteless material. Awful rip-off.
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