Battle of the Deviants
a kate west review
directed by Patrick Bristow
at the Celebration Theater, 7051 Santa Monica Blvd., 1 block east La Brea, Hollywood
Wednesdays & Thursdays at 8 p.m., July 28 – August 26, 2004 - EXTENDED!!!
Tickets $12, Groups (10 or more), $10, Call (323) 957-1884
The Deviant Laboratories (www.deviantlaboratories.com), that brilliant, inspirational local comedy sketch group, now in their third year of entertaining Hollywood, strikes gold once again with their latest show, “Battle of the Deviants.” Comprised of outlandish scenes such as a feisty, yet lonely girl raised by turkeys, brawling British boys, an over-the-hill once-glamorous actress, peaceful aliens and many other memorable wacky characters, “Battle of the Deviants” is an original, fast-paced evening of glorious insanity.
Director Patrick Bristow, luminous alum of the reputable Groundlings Theatre, once more creates refreshingly stunning stage pictures and blocking (an actor’s stage movement), deftly moving his actors from one scene to the next with the dexterity of a true pro. In a daring and strikingly innovative choice, there are often no scene transitions, which work amazingly well in blurring the lines of reality. It is also fascinating to watch the level of concentration between cast and crew alike as every spare second of the show is so carefully choreographed (including rapid costume, scene and character changes) that each person depends utterly on his fellow cast or crew member. True teamwork indeed, complete with faint echoes of Monty Python (the pinnacle of British comedy sketch.) Michele Miatello’s lavishly delicious and extreme set looks like a genuine boxing ring and adds yet another level of zany reality.
The entire cast is solid, and a tremendously strong group. One notable standout is newcomer James Adomian, whose multitude of characterizations dazzle and enchant spectators. Rather than give away any fun character reveals, suffice it to say that audience members do not soon forget him. Annie Morgan, another new recruit, has several nice moments and Carrie Seim and Chad Cline, new to the group as well, easily match the veterans’ professional pace. The usual suspects, Michael Serrato, Brian Clark, Scotty Scarboro, Tanya McClure and Ted Cannon are naturally quite wonderful and the whole ensemble works together well, considering many of the scenes collide (not to worry, all will be clear at the show). Some of the actors might want to work on projecting however, especially considering how the loud the show gets at times so that the occasional good one-liner is lost here and there.
The second act is even more chaotic than the first and each reveal more delightful than the next, especially the rare inside jokes you might pick up on if you have seen previous shows. Crowd favorites include “The Champ,” featuring an old time hammy actor portraying a cheesy boxer, “Battleship,” featuring familiar political figures, “TIVO,” with two lovers arguing about anger, “Playing by the Rules,” a particularly relevant and poignant piece about domestic partnership, a bitter old couple in “Oldie Fight,” stoic and taciturn lovers in “Fences” and an uproarious take on television’s “Little House on the Prairie.” “Anyway,” features a hellish shrill stage mother and untalented son team, much improved in a later incarnation by having them as the intermission act. This works much better than allowing them a separate scene in the show. Other unusual devices that add nicely to the multi-dimensional and sophisticated whole include an apologist and several rants (again, please see the show for a proper explanation.)
In short, the Deviant Laboratories is definitely the up-and-coming group to watch, a casting director’s dream, consistently showcasing the very best in young comedic talent. Never a dull moment in a Deviant show, each production is more ambitious than the next as their many fans wait breathlessly for what madness they will come up with next. Their latest show is an absolute must-see and will not disappoint. But be sure to see it now so you can say I-knew-them-when.